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Observations on the 2017 Election campaign… (Iwa)

3 October 2017 1 comment

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Red-Green, Blue-Green?

There is mischief-making afoot.

Suggestions for a National-Green coalition are being floated by various right-wing commentators, National Party figures, and some media pundits. Despite Green Party Leader, James Shaw, repeatedly ruling out any such possibility – the suggestion continues to circulate.

On  election night, as TOP leader Gareth Morgan realised his party would not reach the 5% MMP threshold, he made the bizarre comment that the Greens should join with National in a formal coalition;

“I want them [the Green Party] to do what we would’ve done if we had been above five, and say to National who are gonna be the Government it’s very obvious, we will work with you, we need to work on the environment no matter who the Government is.”

To which Shaw predictably responded;

“My view is that he would have been better off backing a party that had similar ideas, like us.”

This was reiterated for the NZ Herald;

Shaw said he would not being making contact with National, but he would take a call from National leader Bill English.

“It’s my responsibility to do so. And we’ll have to see what they’ve got to say. But one of the things I will be saying in return is ‘You know we campaigned on a change of government and you know what was in our manifesto … and how incongruous that is to what the National Party policy programme is’.”

On 25 September, right-wing political commentator and mischief-maker, Matthew Hooton, again raised the proposal for a National-Green coalition on Radio NZ’s Nine to Noon political panel;

“And then there’s the other one, of course, there’s the National-Green option, which is  favoured by National party members… it’s an interesting one…”

On the same day, on Radio NZ’s Checkpoint, former PM Jim Bolger repeated the National-Green coalition possibility to host, John Campbell;

“…The Greens might be quietly reflecting on whether they, unique in the world as a Green party, should only link themselves to left-wing politics. Whereas  the environment is neither left wing or right wing, frankly. The environment is the environment, it’s Mother Earth we’re talking about.

And I just wonder whether or not they won’t reflect on towards the National government that signed up to the Paris Climate Accords and have set in place the process to reach  the goals that was set out there.

So I’d imagine in a quiet back room the Greens might be saying, ‘Why? Why are we saying we can only go with one party?’, eg the Labour party, and you might watch this space if I was you, John.”

Bolger’s hippy-like ‘Mother Earth’ musings was followed by Tracy Watkins. Writing for Fairfax media on 25/26 September, she still laboured under the impression that a National-Green coalition was a real ‘thing’;

Like Winston Peters, the Greens could theoretically hold the balance of power, after National made it clear it is more than willing to talk turkey with the minor party.

[…]  Some senior Nats consider a deal with the Greens more desirable than a NZ First deal – the Green’s environmental platform is seen within National as something it could accommodate, particularly after the clobbering it took over clean water during the election campaign.

That highlighted to National that its credibility on environmental issues and New Zealand’s 100 per cent pure brand needs some serious work – and a Greens deal would be a simple way to enhance its environmental credentials.

There is also recognition that a deal with the Greens would be more forward looking and more likely to ride the mood for change than a deal with the NZ First, whose policies are more backward looking.

Peter Dunne followed on Radio NZ’s Morning Report on 27 September, with his call for a National-Green coalition;

“The best option in my view … is for the Greens to be very bold, work out that they could make significant changes on climate change policy, and go with National.”

Note that this suggestion came from Peter Dunne, who recently chucked in his own political career rather than facing  Labour’s Greg O’Connor at the ballot box.

Where was Dunne’s own boldness?

What happened to his own United Future Party?

Even a chat-show’s sports commentator put his two cents worth in. The AM Show’s Mark Richardson suddenly decided that commentating on grown men kicking balls around wet paddocks wasn’t enough of a challenge for him. Duncan Garner decided to prompt Richardson to offer the public his  suddenly new-found “political expertise”.

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Mark Richardson, Sports Presenter (now moonlighting as a political pundit)

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Richardson complied, and sagely advised;

AM Show sports commentator Mark Richardson is dipping his toe into the political pool again, this time splashing his ideas at the leader of the Green Party.

Introduced by his colleague Duncan Garner as a “political expert”, who has “decided that you [Green Party leader James Shaw] should listen to him and this is what he wants to say.”

The cricketer-turned-broadcaster challenged Shaw to form a coalition government with National, following the stalemate reached in Saturday’s election.

I just want to say James,” said Richardson, directly to camera, “be a risk taker and back yourself, but not only back yourself, back that band of hopeful young administrators you take with them (sic),” he said.

How ‘delightful’ that National supporters and other sundry right-wingers are encouraging the Greens to be “bold”  and “risk takers”. After all, if such an unlikely coalition were to eventuate, the damage wreaked upon the Green Party wouldn’t impact one iota on the likes of Morgan, Hooton, Bolger, Dunne, Richardson, et al. But it sure as hell would destroy the Greens and eliminate the Labour Party’s only reliable potential coalition partner.

Game over for the Left.

So no surprise that a whole bunch of people on the Right and media have suddenly focused on the Green Party;

  • For media pundits, they are suffering from boredom and a debilitating psychological effect called ‘lackofheadline-itis’. With coalition negotiations unlikely to commence until Special Votes have been counted and announced on 7 October, manufacturing “news” by positing a fantasy fairy tale of the Greens linking up with National creates headlines. It’s as close to fake news as we’ll get with the msm.
  • For National Party supporters – such as AM Show sports commentator Mark Richardson (see above) – such a deal with the Green Party would lend legitimacy to a fourth term National government. Make no mistake, the Green Party is a powerful brand, and the Nats want it. Badly.
  • For the National government, should any  such a coalition eventuate, the kudos for any environmental gains would inevitably be snapped for themselves, as it did with the home insulation deal it made with the Green Party in 2009;

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Success for that  programme was claimed solely by the Nats;

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But as the fate of small parties such as ACT, United Future/Peter Dunne, and the Maori Party demonstrated with crystal clarity, snuggling up close to the National Party goliath is akin to trying to cuddle up to a ravenous lion. It will not end well.

Just ask Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox.

So National would benefit two-fold.

By contrast, it is unclear what gain (if any) the Greens could hope to achieve.

National and sundry right-wing commentators should knock off trying to use the Green Party as pawns in any negotiations with NZ First. Trying to use the Green Party as “leverage” will simply not work. The Green Party refuses to be anybody’s “lever”.

Just to be absolutely clear – because evidently, having it in writing, in black and white, on the Green Party website – is insufficient for some people;

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Matthew Hooton can’t count

Also on Radio NZ’s Nine to Noon political panel on 25 September, right-wing political commentator,  Matthew Hooton, stated that National’s vote on Saturday was better than previous elections;

“Admittedly partly as a result of the decline of the Conservative Party, National has won more votes, got a higher proportion of the vote than it did in 2014 and 2008…”

It is unclear what Hooton has based that assumption on, as his statement is contradicted by the Provisional Results from the Electoral Commission.

According to the Commission’s website, the National Party gained the followed percentage and individual votes for 2008, 2014, and 2017;

Election Year Party
Votes
%
Votes
2008 1,053,398 44.93%
2014 1,131,501 47.04%
2017* 998,813 46.0%

(* Preliminary results)

The numbers are clear; National’s vote has fallen by 132,000 and their percentage of the Party Vote has fallen by over one percentage point from 2014. (And whilst National’s Party vote percentage was higher this year than 2008 – they still suffered a drop in actual votes by 54,585.

Even the demise of Colin Craig’s Conservative Party (aka, CCCP) failed to lift National’s poll results.

Whichever way you look at it, the tide is beginning to ebb on National’s fortunes.

Stuart Nash wins Napier outright

Following the 2014 General Election, I pointed out that Stuart Nash’s win in the Napier seat was due more to Garth McVicar splitting the right-wing vote, allowing Labour to slip through to victory. As I reported on 26 September, 2014;

Nash did not “win” Napier.

The National candidate, Wayne Walford lost the electorate when Garth McVicar from the Conservative Party split the right wing vote in the electorate. Remember; electorate contests are still fought using First Past the Post – not by any  proportionality or preferential voting.

The actual results were;

McVICAR, Garth: (Conservatives) 7,135

NASH, Stuart: (Labour) 14,041

WALFORD, Wayne: (National) 10,308

Add McVicar’s 7,135 to Walford’s figures, and the combined 17,443 would have trounced Nash easily.

On Election Night 2017, Stuart Nash did not had the benefit of a popular Conservative Party candidate splitting the right-wing vote. Instead, he won the seat outright;

Candidate
 Stuart Nash (L)
18,407*
 David Elliott (N)
14,159*
 Laurence Day (CCCP)
200*

* Figures provisional.

 

Not only did Nash retain his overall majority, but McVicar’s 7,135 votes from 2014 appears to have been evenly split between Nash and Elliott.

This time, Nash can legitimately assert that he won the Napier seat without vote-splitting creating an artificial majority, as happened three years ago.

Winston Peters waiting for Special Votes

It’s not often that I agree with NZ First leader, Winston Peters. But on 27 September he told the media;

“This will be the last press conference I am going to hold until after the 7th of October… I can’t tell you what we are going to do until we have seen all the facts.

I can’t talk to you until I know what the 384,000 people who have cast their vote said… please don’t write the kind of thing saying someone has moral authority…we are not first past the post here.”

He’s right.

Until Special Votes are counted, making statements to the media is an exercise in futility. It would be pandering more to the dictates of the 24-hour news cycle rather than offering anything constructive to the public.

At this point the media will have to exercise patience and simply accept that until Special Votes are counted, nothing can (or should) happen.

The democratic process cannot; must not; should not, revolve around the 24-hour news cycle.

The Curious resignation of  Wayne Eagleson

Something very, very curious has transpired in the dark coridors of power in the Beehive. The Prime Minister’s Number 2, right-hand man, Wayne Eagleson  announced his resignation on 25 September.

Eagleson was one of several high-ranking National figures who were informed that Winston Peters had received a superannuation overpayment.

On 26 September, both English and Eagleson vigorously denied leaking – or having knowledge of who might have leaked – information on Peters’ superannuation overpayments;

It didn’t come from the National Party.” – Wayne Eagleson

No, not all. I take people by their word that no action was taken by my staff in making that information public.” – Bill English

Now, aside from the fact that Bill English has already shown himself willing and capable of telling lies, by repeating Steven Joyce’s fabrications over Labour’s “$11.7 billion hole” and “increased personal taxes”, there remain an interesting question regarding the statements made by the Prime Minister and Wayne Eagleson.

Namely this: How can either English or Eagleson know with absolute certainty that the leaking of Peters’ personal superannuation details did not come from someone/anyone connected to the National Party?

If they truly  know – with 100% certainty – that no one in the National Party leaked the information; how do they know this? How is that possible?

In fact, it is not  possible.

In that respect, both English and Eagleson are covering up the possibility that the leak emanated from someone within the National party or government.

And if both men are willing to take that small step to cover-up the merest possibility of an internal National Party leak… would it be too much of a stretch to assume that one or both are fully aware of who the leaker is?

Why did Eagleson resign – especially at this very crucial time of coalition negotiations?

And what does Winston Peters know of why Eagleson resigned?

One salient fact fact is indisputable: someone did leak that information. The question is not who was responsible – but who else knew who was responsible.

Wayne Eagleson knows more than he is letting on, as does Bill English.

Winston Peters has had his ‘utu’.

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References

Mediaworks:  A phone call between National and the Greens would be a short one

Radio NZ: Nine to Noon Political Panel – 25.9.2017 (alt.link)

Radio NZ:  Former PM Jim Bolger on how to deal with Winston Peters (alt.link)

NZ Herald:  Green Party leader James Shaw rules out contacting National

Fairfax media:  The Green Party also hold the balance of power, but they don’t seem to want it

Radio NZ: Morning Report –  Dunne predicts ‘blood on the floor’

Fairfax media:  Mark Richardson declares himself as a National supporter, does that matter?

NBR: Govt launches ‘Warm Up NZ’ programmed

National Party:  10 ways National is helping families get ahead

Green Party:  How you vote has never been so important

Electoral Commission: New Zealand 2011 General Election Official Results

Electoral Commission: New Zealand 2008 General Election Official Results

Electoral Commission: Preliminary results for the 2017 General Election

Electoral Commission: 2014 Election Results – Napier (Alt.link: Wikipedia – Election Results – Napier)

Electoral Commission: 2017 Election Results – Napier (Provisional)

Otago Daily Times:  Peters will wait for special vote count

Mediaworks:  Bill English’s chief of staff quits – but wants NZ First deal first

Radio NZ:  Timeline – Winston Peters’ superannuation overpayments saga

Mediaworks:  As it happened – Parties prepare for election negotiations

Other Blogs

The Standard: How a National/Green coalition could work

Previous related blogposts

Election 2014; A Post-mortem; a Wake; and one helluva hang-over

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (tahi)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (rua)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (toru)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (wha)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (rima)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (ono)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (whitu)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign… (waru)

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 28 September 2017.

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Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (wha)

11 September 2017 2 comments

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Who paid for the Budget surplus?

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The 2017 Pre-Election Fiscal Update (PREFU) revealed that the Nats had achieved a respectable $3.7 billion surplus – contrasting sharply  with the $1.6 billion forecasted surplus in the May 2017 Budget.

How did National achieve such a remarkable feat, despite reduced revenue from tax cuts in 2009 and 2010 and the re-build after the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes?.

One doesn’t have to search far to find one possible answer where cuts were made to achieve their much-vaunted surplus;

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The answer has been revealed in an editorial in the New Zealand Medical Journal last year;

New Zealand’s health budget has been declining for almost a decade and could signal health reforms akin to the sweeping changes of the 1990s, new research claims.

Six prominent industry health leaders and researchers contributed to the editorial in the latest edition of the New Zealand Medical Journal, after several months analysing Government documents and data.

Their analysis showed Government spending in health had steadily tracked downward since 2009, despite constant reassurances from health ministers that spending was increasing year-on-year.

The $16.1 billion 2016 Health Budget, announced on Thursday, was $170 million more than last year, including $124m for Pharmac, $96m for elective surgery and $39m for a new bowel screening programme.

However, the researchers’ analysis of Budget data from 2009-10 found the country’s health budget had fallen short of what was needed each year to cover new services, increasing costs and the Ministry of Health’s cost-weighted index, which accounted for population growth and ageing.

The accumulated “very conservative” shortfall over the five years to 2014-15 was estimated at $800 million, but could be double that, Canterbury Charity Hospital founder and editorial co-author Phil Bagshaw said.

Writing for Fairfax,  Ashleigh Stewart  pointed out;

Vote Health’s operational expenditure decreased from 6.32 per cent to 5.95 per cent as a proportion of GDP in the same five years.

Government expenditure was set to continue falling overall, with New Zealand ranked 26th out of OECD countries for spending as a proportion of GDP in 2013.

This meant further cuts for health spending, which was estimated to drop by about 4 per cent a year.

“The continued under-resourcing of our health services . . . is not owing to unaffordability; it is a policy decision to reduce government expenditure overall and introduce tax cuts,” the editorial said.

Anyone who  harbours illusions that tax cuts are beneficial should think twice. Especially if  they have to face  waiting months or years on hospital waiting lists for critical surgery, or turned away because the system is stretched to breaking point;

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Then again, those like Bill English – who stands to gain the most from tax cuts – are also the most likely to be able to afford private health insurance.

National’s tax cuts should come clearly labelled;

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Because they really are.

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Steven Joyce – Pot. Kettle. Hypocrite.

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In the Dominion Post on 5 September, Steven Joyce was ‘doubling down’ and digging his hole deeper, as he steadfastly maintained National’s spin (aka, lie) that Labour’s Budget had a “$11.7 billion hole” in it;

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Joyce’s claims have since been rubbished by various economists – including, surprisingly, the right-wing think-tank, the NZ Initiative (formerly Business Roundtable);

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Acknowledgement for above graphic: Newshub

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More damning still was another remark Joyce made about Labour’s fictitious $11.7 billion “hole”;

“That level of spending and increased debt can only lead to one thing – higher interest rates for Kiwi mortgage holders.”

Which is risable as National has borrowed  eight times Joyce’s figure of $11.7 billion;

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That’s right;

“Government annual operating expenditure in these forecasts increases from $77 billion to $90 billion over the next four years, which is sufficient for significant ongoing improvement in the provision of public services,” Mr Joyce says.

And interestingly, during National’s massive borrowing-spree, interest rates have remained low. Joyce’s contention that borrowing leads to higher interest rates for mortgage holders doesn’t seem to have happened (yet) – and National has borrowed like there’s no tomorrow.

By making up outright lies about Labour’s budgetary plans, Joyce has not only revealed himself as as deceptive  – but drawn unwanted attention to National’s own irresponsible borrowing over the last nine years.

Well done, Steven;

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Peter Dunne. Ohariu. Coat-tailing.

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If it hasn’t been said already, the seat of Ohariu has become irrelevant.  Whether Brett Hudson or Greg O’Connor wins is now academic. Once again, it is the Party Vote that counts.

When Dunne was standing, the coat-tailing provision made him a valuable asset to National. If Dunne breached the 1.2% threshold as well as winning Ohariu, he would’ve dragged in another MP off the United Future party list.

It is the same reason National offered patronage to David “H” Seymour to gift him Epsom: the possibility of an extra ACT MP via MMP’s coat-tailing rule.

This is why Judith Collins doubled-down and stubbornly refused to implement the Electoral Commission’s recommendations in 2013  to eliminate the coat-tailing provision.

The Green Party was thus correct to stand a candidate in Ohariu. Whilst the Greens are not seeking to win the electorate, they are chasing Party Votes – and Ohariu is another opportunity to remind voters that the Greens are vital for this country’s environmental well-being.

Simply put; to be healthy we need our Greens.

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National’s fiscal hole?

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Bill English’s announcement on 4 September on TV3’s Leader’s Debate that his party would raise 100,000 children out of poverty in the next three years appears to have been policy made-on-the-hoof.

Because it’s not a matter of simply raising incomes for poor families. As English pointed out in the Debate, it is far more complex, requiring support from an array of social services;

“There’s two things you need to do, one is lift incomes the other is get inside the very toxic mix of social issues which we know are family violence, criminal offending and long-term welfare dependency. We’ve got the best tools in the world now to support rising incomes with cracking the social problems.”

This comes on top of National’s other pledges to improve access for social services;

National have pledged 600,000 low-income New Zealanders will have access to $18 GP visits. 

National will also expand the community services card to an additional 350,000 people, with low incomes and high housing costs.

Alongside free GP visits for under 13s and the Very Low Cost Access (VLCA) scheme for GP visits, which were already in place, National’s new policy would mean more than half of New Zealanders would be eligible for either free or cheap doctors visits. 

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman also chucked in a few more lollies from Labour’s lolly-jar;

“As well as getting access to cheap GP visits, 350,000 more New Zealanders with lower incomes and high housing costs, will receive cheap prescriptions, free emergency dental care and free glasses for children through their new community services cards.”

Plus National’s $10.5  billion “Roads of National Significance”.  (Called that, because those Roads are Significant for National to be re-elected.)

The obvious question is: has Steven Joyce checked if  it’s all been costed?

Are there any lurking micro-Black Holes in National’s Budget?

Wouldn’t it be ironic if…?

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References

Radio NZ:  Govt’s books show one-off $2bn boost

NBR:  Budget 2017 – Government forecast surpluses narrow on family package, capital spending

NZ Herald:  Report shows 170,000 people who need surgery are not on waiting list

Radio NZ:  Patients suffering because of surgery waits – surgeon

NZ Herald:  700 surgeries postponed as Auckland hospitals struggle to cope

Fairfax media:  Southern patients may be dying while waiting for surgery – Labour

Radio NZ:  Prostate cancer patients face wildly varying wait times

Radio NZ:  Southern DHB in a ‘slow motion train crash’

Scoop media:  280,000 New Zealanders waiting for surgery, wait times up

Fairfax media:  Thousands left off surgery waiting lists suffering indefinitely – study

Fairfax media:  Who is missing out on surgery? Government releases first figures of ‘phantom waiting list’

Fairfax media:  Researchers claim NZ health budget declining, publicly-funded surgery on way out

Fairfax media:  Busy Hamilton clinics turn away ambulances

Newsroom:  Election 2017 Live – Leaders clash in fiery debate

Dominion Post:  National accuses Labour of $11.7b spending plan error, Labour says National got it wrong

Mediaworks:  Economist consensus – there’s no $11.7b hole in Labour’s budget

National Party:  Pre-Election Fiscal Update 2017 (alt. link)

Fairfax media:   Government’s MMP review response slammed

Mediaworks:  Newshub Leaders Debate – Bill English commits to poverty target

Fairfax media:  National pledges $18 doctors visits for an extra 600,000 New Zealanders

Fairfax media:  National announce $10.5 billion roading plan

Previous related blogposts

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (tahi)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (rua)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (toru)

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 6 September 2017.

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Election ’17 Countdown: The Strategy of Ohariu

22 February 2017 2 comments

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(Or, “It’s only ‘hypocrisy’ when the Left do it!“)

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kalenderblatt_23_september_2011

 

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The Labour-Green New Deal

On 14 February, the Left finally woke up to the realities of MMP. A deal was brokered and the only possible, logical  outcome arrived at;

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rnz-green-party-will-not-stand-in-ohariu-election-2017

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The Radio NZ story is correct; Dunne retained the Ōhāriu electorate by only 710 votes.

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ohariu-2014-election-result

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Had Green voters given their electorate vote to the Labour candidate, Virginia  Andersen would have won Ōhāriu by 2,054 votes and National would  have lost one of their coalition partners.

With the subsequent loss of Northland to Winston Peters in March 2015, National would have lost their majority in Parliament and would have had to either rely on NZ First for Confidence and Supply – or call an early election.

A major victory for the Left (and all low-income people in our community) would have been the abandonment of National’s state house sell-of. (Current state housing stock has dropped from 69,000 rental properties in 2008 to 61,600 (plus a further 2,700 leased) by  2016.)

National has sold off  7,400 properties. Meanwhile, as of December last year, there were 4,771 people on the state house waiting list;

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msd-housing-nz-waiting-list

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Had Dunne been ousted from Ōhāriu in 2014 our recent history would have been completely altered.  Anyone who believes that the Labour-Green accomodation was a “dirty” deal might ponder the ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs’ whilst spending the night in a car or under a tarpaulin. Preferably in winter.

Green Party co-leader, James Shaw, rightly pointed out the obvious;

“I think New Zealanders will understand that, in an MMP environment, it makes perfect sense for us to not stand a candidate in Ōhāriu. Ōhāriu has a significant impact on the makeup of Parliament.

Not standing in Ōhāriu increases the chances that we will be in a position to change the government in September – it’s as simple as that.

I would actually argue that we’re being more transparent here by actually simply saying we’re not going to and it’s within the structure of the memorandum of understanding with the Labour Party that we signed last year, where we actually held a press conference saying that we were going to work together to change the government.”

Shaw has rejected any suggestion that this is a “dirty deal”. Again, he is correct. the Greens and Labour are simply working by the rules of MMP as National determined in 2012/13, when then-Dear Leader Key refused to eliminate the “coat-tailing” provision.

Shaw should have thrown the description of a “deal” right back at critics such as right-wing blogger and National Party apparatchik, David Farrar, and TV3’s faux-moralistic Patrick Gower. Shaw’s response should have been hard-hitting and ‘in-your-face’,

“Damn right it’s a deal. Those are the rules set by  National and we  play by them. If people don’t like it, take it up with the Tories.”

Some context

In 2012, National followed through on an earlier government committment to conduct a review into the MMP electoral process. The Commission called for submissions from the public, and over 4,600 submissions were duly made on the issue. (This blogger made a submission as well.)

As a result, the Commission made these findings;

The Commission presented its final report to the Minister of Justice on 29 October 2012 with the following recommendations:

  • The one electorate seat threshold  [aka “coat-tailing”] should be abolished (and if it is, the provision for overhang seats should also be abolished);

  • The party vote threshold should be lowered from 5% to 4% (with the Commission required by law to review how the 4% threshold is working);

  • Consideration be given to fixing the ratio of electorate seats to list seats at 60:40 to address concerns about declining proportionality and diversity of representation;

  • Political parties should continue to  have responsibility for selecting and ranking candidates on their party lists but they must make a statutory declaration that they have done so in accordance with their party rules;

  • MPs should continue to be allowed to be dual candidates and list MPs to stand in by-elections.

 

The first two recommendations were a direct threat to National’s dominance in Parliament, and then-Minister of Justice, Judith Collins rejected them outright;

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govt-rejects-recommendations-to-change-mmp-system-nz-herald-mmp-review

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Key offered a mealy-mouthed excuse for not accepting the Electoral Commission’s report;

“If you’re really, really going to have major change to MMP you’d want to have either consensus or to put it to the people.  It’s not a matter of blame – it’s just a range of views out there.”

Yet, submitters had been fairly clear in their views and failure to obtain “concensus” from the smaller parties in Parliament said more about their own self-interests than public-interest.

A NZ Herald editorial pointed out;

All of National’s present allies, Act, United Future and the Maori Party, take the same view of the single electorate entitlement and all but the Maori Party have benefited from it at some time. Self-interest may be their underlying motive…

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National seems not to want to disturb the status quo because it discounts its chances of finding stable coalition partners under the simplified system proposed.

So the hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars spent on the MMP Review; seeking submissions; listening to submitters; and providing the Report to Parliament was all an utter waste of money.

The “coat-tailing” provision would be set to remain because without it National would find it harder to find potential coalition allies, and therefore govern.

It also meant that all political parties now have to play by the same rules, or else be disadvantaged.

(Hypo)Crit(ic)s

— Gower

Patrick Gower (with Jenna Lynch sharing the byline) writing for  TV3 News was obviously having a bad coffee-day with this vitriolic comment, condemning the Labour-Green accomodation;

Labour and the Greens have just done the dirtiest electorate deal in New Zealand political history – and it is all about destroying Peter Dunne.

The tree-hugging Greens will not stand in Ōhāriu to help the gun-toting former cop Greg O’Connor win the seat for Labour.

This is dirtier than most electorate deals because for the first time in recent history a party is totally giving up on a seat and not running rather than standing but giving a ‘cup of tea’ signal for its voters to go for a minor party candidate.

The degree of hypocrisy to Gower’s comment is breath-taking.

Note that he suggests that it is preferable to “giving a ‘cup of tea’ signal for its voters to go for a minor party candidate” rather than withdrawing a candidate and openly declaring an accomodation.

In effect, a journalist has advocated for “open deception” rather than transparency. Think about that for a moment.

Gower antipathy to left-wing parties using current MMP rules is not new. Three years ago, Gower  made a scathing attack on Hone Harawira and Laila Harré over the alliance between the Internet Party and Mana Movement;

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patrick-gower-twitter-laila-harre-mana-internet-party-alliance

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By attacking parties on the Left who choose to work together (but not parties on the Right), Gower is either displaying crass ignorance over how MMP works – or undisguised political bias.

I will not be surprised if Gower eventually ends up as Press Secretary for a National minister.

Postscript: Re Gower’s comment that “for the first time in recent history a party is totally giving up on a seat and not running“.

This is yet more ignorance from a man who is supposedly TV3’s “political editor”. Political parties often do not yield a full slate of candidates in every electorate.

In the 2014 General election there were 71 electorates; 64 general and seven Māori electorates;

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party-and-candidate-lists-for-2014-election

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The Green party had only 57 candidates out of 71 electorates. Notice that even National did not offer candidates in every electorate.

Only Labour fielded a candidate in all 71 electorates.

So as usual, Gower’s political knowledge is disturbingly lacking. Or partisan. Take your pick.

— Farrar

Soon after the Greens announced their accomodation deal, National Party apparatchik, pollster, and right-wing blogger – David Farrar – was predictable in his criticism. Cheering for Patrick Gower, Farrar  wrote;

…Labour and Greens have spent years condemning deals where National stands but tells supporters they only want the party vote, and now they’ve done a deal where they don’t even stand. I don’t have a huge issue with them doing that – the issue is their blatant hypocrisy.

They’re so desperate to be in Government they’ll put up with that, but the irony is that if Winston does hold the balance of power and pick Labour, he’ll insist the Greens are shut out of Government.

Yet, in 2011 and 2014, Farrar had different thoughts on deal-making when it came to electoral accomodations;

This is sensible and not unusual. Off memory most elections there have been some seats where ACT doesn’t stand a candidate to avoid splitting the centre-right electorate vote. One of the nice things about MMP is that you can still contest the party vote, without needing to stand in an electorate.

And,

I think Epsom voters will vote tactically, as they did previously. But the choice is up to them. National may say we are only seeking the party vote in an electorate – but they still stand a candidate, giving voters the choice. Epsom voters are not controlled by National. If they don’t want to tactically vote, then they won’t. All National will be doing is saying we’re happy for people to vote for the ACT candidate, as having ACT in Parliament means you get a National-led Government.

So, according to Farrar, it’s ok  that “ ACT doesn’t stand a candidate to avoid splitting the centre-right electorate vote“. He describes it as “one of the nice things about MMP“.

So as long as a deal is presented dishonestly – “All National will be doing is saying we’re happy for people to vote for the ACT candidate, as having ACT in Parliament means you get a National-led Government” –  then that’s ok?

Both Labour/Greens and National/ACT have presented electoral accomodations – but in different ways.

One was transparent.

The other was doing it with a “wink, wink, nudge, nudge”.

It is unreasonable and hypocritical to support one side to exploit current MMP provisions to their benefit – whilst expecting others to work to a different set of rules. Perhaps Mr Farrar should look at how National/ACT presents their accomodations to the public – or else do away with the coat-tailing provision altogether.

Ōhāriu Green Voters

Following the 2011 General Election, I noted that Green voters had failed to make full use of strategic voting under MMP;

Dunne’s election gave National an extra coalition partner  and his win  therefore assumes a greater relevance than a “mere” electorate MP.  In effect, 1,775 Green voters sent John Key a second Coalition partner, after John Banks.

And again, post-2014;

Some Green supporters are either woefully ignorant of MMP – or have been smoking to much of a certain herb. Or, gods forbid, they are so desperate to remain ideologically pure in their principles, that they are willing to allow a right wing candidate to be elected, rather than supporting a candidate from another party on the Left.

In  Ōhāriu (as well as other electorates) Peter Dunne was returned to office because Green Party supporters cast their electorate votes for Green candidate Tane Woodley, instead of the Labour candidate. Preliminary election results for Ohariu yield the following;

ANDERSEN, Virginia: (Labour)11,349*

DUNNE, Peter: (United Future) 12,279*

WOODLEY, Tane: (Greens) 2,266*

Had supporters of the Green Party given their electorate votes to Viriginia Andersen, Peter Dunne would have been defeated by 1,336* votes.

The Greens need to get it through to their supporter’s  heads that giving their electorate votes to their own candidates is a waste of effort and an indulgence we cannot afford.

When elections are close-fought and majorities slim, such indulgences cannot be tolerated, and the Greens need to educate their supporters quick-smart, if we are to win in 2017.

(*Note: figures above were preliminary and not final results.)

If there was an element of frustration and anger in my comments above, it was a ‘face-palm’ moment.  The  poorest families and individuals in New Zealand have paid the price by enduring two terms of National because Green voters chose to indulge themselves by casting both votes for the Green candidate, rather than strategic vote-splitting.

I can understand affluent, propertied Middle Class voting for self-interest.

I find it less palatable that Green voters cast their ballots for some bizarre feeling of political purity. That is selfishness in another form.

Beneficiaries being attacked by a souless government; people living in cars, garages,  rough, or crammed three families into one home; people suffering as social services are slashed, will find it hard to understand such selfishness.

In the United States, blue-collar workers voted for a populist demagogue. The workers who voted for Trump believed that the Left had abandoned them.

We dare not allow the same despair to flourish in our own country.

If politics is a contest of ideas; a battle of ideology; then strategy counts.

The Greens have woken up to this simple reality.

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References

Radio NZ: Green Party will not stand in Ōhāriu

Electoral Commission: Official Count Results – Ōhāriu

Radio NZ: Winston Peters takes Northland

Radio NZ: Thousands of state houses up for sale

Housing NZ: Annual Report 2008/09

Housing NZ: Annual Report 2015/16

Fairfax media: Samoan family stuck in makeshift, mosquito-ridden tent – ‘through no fault of their own’

Ministry of Social Development: The housing register

Radio NZ: Labour-Greens deny deal over Ohariu seat

NZ Herald: Political Roundup – Embarrassing but strategic deal for the Greens

Electoral Commission: 2012 MMP Review

Electoral Commission: What people said on the MMP Review

Electoral Commission: The Results of the MMP Review

NZ Herald: Govt rejects recommendations to change MMP system

NZ Herald: Editorial – National too timid on MMP review

Electoral Commission: Financial Review

NZ Herald:  Govt rejects recommendations to change MMP system

Radio NZ:  Collins defends not trying for changes to MMP

Fairfax media:  Government’s MMP review response slammed

Scoop media:  Minister’s response to MMP review a travesty –  Lianne  Dalziel

NZ Herald:  Editorial – National too timid on MMP review

TV3 News: Patrick Gower – Labour-Greens do double dirty deal in Ōhāriu

Electoral Commission: Electoral Commission releases party and candidate lists for 2014 election

Kiwiblog: The double dirty deal in Ohariu

Kiwiblog: Marginal Seat deals

Kiwiblog: National’s potential electoral deals

Additional

Electoral Commission:   2017 General Election

Other Blogs

The Standard:  The coat-tail rule and democracy (2014)

Public Address:  Government votes not to improve MMP (2015)

The Standard:  Greens stand aside in Ōhāriu

Previous related blogposts

Patrick Gower – losing his rag and the plot

Judith Collins issues decision on MMP Review!

Judith Collins – Minister of Talking Crap

Letter to the Editor: Mana, Internet Party, Judith Collins, and “coat-tailing”

Letter to the Editor – Dom Post editorial off into LaLaLand

John Banks: condition deteriorating

The secret of National’s success – revealed

Election 2014 – A Post-mortem; a Wake; and one helluva hang-over

2014 Election – Post-mortem Up-date

Post mortem #1: Green Voters in Electorates

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Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

 

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 February 2017.

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Dodgy tax havens and even dodgier Peter Dunne’s memory

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“To put it bluntly, if the label ‘tax haven’ is being bandied about now as it is, sticks, then that’s extremely damaging. You think of the way we perceive other countries that we’ve historically labelled as tax havens. We don’t view them credibly, and I think that’s the big risk to New Zealand.” – Peter Dunne, TVNZ’s Q+A, 2 May 2016

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Against a swirling back-drop of revelations surrounding the Panama Papers, Mossack Fonseca, John Key’s lawyer, Ken Whitney, then-Revenue Minister Todd McLay,  the IRD dumping a review into foreign trusts, and New Zealand’s reputation for offering secret trusts as part of the tax-haven industry,  TVNZ’s Greg Boyd interviewed former Revenue Minister, Peter Dunne for Q+A on 2 May;

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peter dunne interviewed on Q+A by Greg Boyd

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Boyd’s first question to Dunne seemed innocuous enough, setting the basis of the interview. Dunne’s response appeared unremarkable;

Greg Boyd: “When you were in the job, if the IRD had concerns about this country’s international reputation, how seriously would you have taken that?”

Peter Dunne: “Very seriously. And the way it works is that they report on a series of issues that are both current in the New Zealand tax environment or the international tax environment, and clearly the Government would be foolish not to take heed of that advice. I have to say that at the time I was minister, the big issue of concern that was just beginning to bubble related to the Googles and the big multinationals and the share of tax they were paying. The issue of foreign trusts was on the edges of that, but I didn’t receive any specific advice from the IRD at that time that they were a problem.”

To put some context to Dunne’s response above, first bear in mind that Dunne was Revenue Minister across two governments, Labour and National, from October 2005 to  June 2013, when he abruptly resigned

…after an investigation into how a top-secret report on the GCSB was leaked to media pointed to him.

Eighty-six emails were sent between Mr Dunne and Dominion Post reporter Andrea Vance in the lead up to the leak but Mr Dunne turned down requests to make them public.

Edited copies of the emails from Mr Dunne show 44 of them discussed the GCSB report, and he planned to meet with Ms Vance the day before she went public…

But how credible was Dunne’s assertion on last week’s Q+A that;

“…The issue of foreign trusts was on the edges of that, but I didn’t receive any specific advice from the IRD at that time that they were a problem.”

– when in May 2012, New Zealand and Russia had been removed from the  European Union banking and corporate “white list” over this country’s frighteningly inadequate  money-laundering controls?

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New Zealand removed from EU 'white list' - money laundering - tax havens

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As reported by Fairfax’s Michael Field, Latvia’s Deputy State Secretary on financial policy issues in the Ministry of Finance, Arina Andreicika, stated;

“I would like to inform you that Latvia has intended to exclude New Zealand and Russian Federation from the list of countries whose legal requirements of money laundering and terrorist financing prevention are equivalent to legislation of the European Union.”

Our removal from the EU “white list” had put New Zealand in the same league as the corruption-ridden Russian Federation.

Gareth Vaughan, from Interest.co.nz, reported;

New Zealand’s dumping from the list also comes amid growing publicity around New Zealand registered companies being linked to crime overseas. This includes a report by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project on how Tormex Ltd, a New Zealand registered company, allegedly laundered US$680 million through a Latvian bank account. It’s just one of many examples of entities exploiting New Zealand’s simple company registration regime. Another is the General Equity Building Society, which claims to hold about US$5.5 billion of equity through unnamed mines, gold, silver and granite ore.

In the same story, Vaughan added,

The World Bank and International Finance Corporation rank New Zealand the easiest of 183 countries surveyed in which  to start a business. Commerce Minister Craig Foss told interest.co.nz in April the Government had no plans to tighten company registration rules.

In the previously mentioned Fairfax story, Michael Field reported;

On the Auckland shell company accused of laundering $680m at a Riga bank, Foss said it was removed from the register in 2010 because it failed to file an annual return.

Too late. The damage to our reputation had been done.

In May 2012, when the European Union’s announcement became public, Peter Dunne was still Minister for Revenue. (His resignation after his alleged involvement in the leaking of the GCSB report was still thirteen months in the future.)

In November 2013, then co-leader of the Green Party, Dr Russel Norman, warned;

“Our secretive foreign trust regime and lax company registration requirements are damaging our international reputation.  Anonymous shell companies and secret trusts are one of the most common ways of moving tainted money into the banking system.”

Yet, only months earlier, as the full implications of the EU’s moves were becoming clear, evidently then-Revenue Minister Peter Dunne “didn’t receive any specific advice from the IRD at that time that they [foreign trusts] were a problem“.

However, whilst  then-Revenue Minister Peter Dunne had not received “any specific advice from the IRD at that time that they [foreign trusts] were a problem“, the Tax Justice Network had, by November 2013, “ranked New Zealand for the first time on its Financial Secrecy Index [at number 48 – see page 17 here]. New Zealand features on the Index due to our lack of transparency around foreign trusts and registered companies, and our below-average levels of co-operation with other countries when it comes to fighting international tax evasion”.

Is it Dunne’s  assertion on Q+A, really credible;

“…The issue of foreign trusts was on the edges of that, but I didn’t receive any specific advice from the IRD at that time that they were a problem.”

No, it is not credible.

As far back as October 2012, Dunne was certainly aware of the problem of secret trusts in New Zealand;

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Dunne dismisses tax haven suggestions

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The Herald report goes on to state;

Mr Dunne today dismissed the idea that New Zealand was a tax haven for foreign trusts.

“The key identifying characteristics of tax havens are secrecy and lack of transparency. Those are simply not factors here in New Zealand. Our legislation for taxing trusts is fully transparent.”

Dunne’s dismissive attitude toward tax havens and foreign trusts is starkly summed up in this excerpt from 60 Minutes on TV3’s website;

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Govt rejects tax haven claim - peter dunne - revenue minister - 60 minutes

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However, Dunne’s defensive assertions were made to look foolish and mendacious when Herald reporter, Matthew Backhouse , added;

The trusts must be registered with Inland Revenue, but are not required to pay tax and their ownership is effectively anonymous.

At the time, our esteemed Dear Leader also supported New Zealand’s involvement in secret foreign tax trusts;

Prime Minister John Key was today unconcerned by Mr Dunne’s comments.

He had not seen the 60 Minutes interview but Mr Dunne would have been using “the absolutely correct technical terms”, he said.

Mr Key said servicing foreign trusts in New Zealand was a strong and legitimate business that employed a lot of professionals and added to the New Zealand economy.

“It’s a very sensible place to house a trust.”

It is difficult to believe Dunne’s assertion that he “didn’t receive any specific advice from the IRD at that time that they [foreign trusts] were a problem“.

Especially as revelations on 60 Minutes clearly revealed that a problem with tax evasion existed; trusts were central to the rorts; and Dunne was responding to it.

Even Key referenced foreign tax trusts as he rushed to defend his then-Revenue Minister;

Key who said Dunne was right. “He’ll be using the absolutely correct technical term. There are two things, going back to my days at university – tax evasion and tax avoidance. There is actually quite legitimate business in New Zealand for servicing foreign trusts”.

In response to Dunne’s denials, Labour’s then-Revenue spokesperson, David Clark, showed amazing prescience when he warned;

“We are in danger of losing our hard-one reputation as an ethical and respectable country. Peter Dunne’s relaxed attitude to overseas tax avoidance and National’s failed attempts to create a foreign funds hub shows the Government has no concerns about us becoming the Cayman Islands of the South Pacific.”

And Dunne is now telling us that he did not know that foreign trusts were a problem?

In 2012, Dunne stated;

“The key identifying characteristics of tax havens are secrecy and lack of transparency. Those are simply not factors here in New Zealand. Our legislation for taxing trusts is fully transparent.”

The legislation may be “transparent”.

John Key, Todd McLay, and Peter Dunne are not.

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References

TVNZ: Q+A – Peter Dunne Interviewed by Greg Boyed (video)

Radio NZ: Further revelations don’t blunt PMs faith in lawyer

TVNZ: Q+A – Peter Dunne Interviewed by Greg Boyed (transcript)

Wikipedia: Peter Dunne

Southland Times: Taxing Times – New Minister of Revenue still has work to do

NZ Herald: Key’s Government

TV3 News: Peter Dunne resigns as minister

Fairfax Media: New Zealand removed from EU ‘white list’

Interest.co.nz: How NZ needs to overcome ‘deficiencies” in bank and financial institution regulation to get back on EU anti money laundering and counter terrorist financing ‘White List’

Radio NZ: NZ struck from EU list over money-laundering controls

Scoop media: Foreign trusts earn New Zealand tax haven status

Tax Justice: Financial Secrecy Index 2013

NZ Herald: Dunne dismisses tax haven suggestions

TV3 News: Govt rejects tax haven claim

Scoop media: Dunne evades tax haven questions

Additional

Liberation: New Zealand cartoons about tax, transparency and the Panama papers

Parliament: The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (Requirements and Compliance) Regulations 2011

Dept of Internal Affairs:  AML/CFT Act and Regulations

NZ Herald: Fran O’Sullivan – Key chases luck o’ the Irish

Converge: New Zealand – A Tax Haven For Super-Rich Foreigners

Previous related blogposts

When National is under attack – Deflect, deflect, deflect!

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scott cartoon - panama papers - tax havens

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 6 May 2016.

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Weekend Revelations #2 – Michelle Boag has a whinge

2 November 2015 3 comments

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National Party staying strong on crime

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From TVNZ’s Q+A, on 25 October 2015,

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Q+A - 25 october 2015 - police - michelle boag - simon dallow

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The Q+A panel were ostensibly discussing out-going Police Association President, Greg O’Connor’s persistent calls to arm the New Zealand police. At one point, former National Party president, Michelle Boag offered her views on policing-techniques in this country;

@5.10:

Michelle Boag: “…But, it’s, it’s a bit of a shame, that for most of us, certainly for me personally, the, the only direct engagement I end up with Police is when they stop me as they did yesterday morning when I was driving to golf at seven o’clock in the morning for a random breath test. Right, so that’s an instant confrontational thing. And, er, it just makes you think, ‘oh god, here they are, enforcing’ all the time-”

Simon Dallow: “So were you more annoyed or were you more pleased that society is being protected here?

Boag: “Er, well, I was annoyed because I haven’t had a drink for twenty years. And every time I get stopped on the way to golf early on a Saturday morning, I think, it’s a complete waste of your time. However, I know, if rather than saying my name and address, I say, ‘Listen, I don’t drink, you’re never going to catch me’, that I’ll probably get hauled up for, y’know, talking back to a policeman.

It should not be lost on most politically conscious folk that one of National’s strongest, most agressively promoted tenet is that of “Law and Order”. One of it’s seven main election billboards, for the 2011 election, was the image at the top of the page.

National’s political history is replete with passing laws empowering the police and spy organisations SIS and GCSB. (The GCSB was set up under National, under then-Prime Minister Robert Muldoon’s leadership.)

Since 2008, National has passed the following laws;

Search and Surveillance Act 2012

Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013

Government Communications Security Bureau Amendment Act 2013

Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill

The GCSB’s mandate was changed two years ago to permit it to spy on New Zealanders.

This, despite protests from New Zealanders up and down the country, opposed to extending the powers of the State into our lives. One wonders if Michelle Boag attended any of the anti-GCSB protests that’s been held around the country?

This is not the first time that a National Party apparatchik has been caught up in the new, murky atmosphere of surveillance, that is now part of our lives. In 2013, then-National Party president Peter Goodfellow, complained of being under covert surveillance by a private investigator;

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national-party-boss-alleges-covert-filming

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I blogged on the issue here: National Party president complains of covert filming.

And who can forget the outrageously delicious irony of National’s coalition partner, Peter Dunne, having his emails pinched by Parliamentary Services and passed on to the Prime Minister’s Department.;

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emails-given-to-inquiry

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Then-Fairfax journalist, Andrea Vance, also had her Parliamentary  phone and swipe-card records passed on to the PM’s Department (which was “assisting” the Thorn Inquiry), as an investigation was held into the identity of the secret source who leaked Vance a confidential report into the GCSB.

The irony is that even as Peter Dunne was rearing up and braying in self-righteous indignation at the invasion of his privacy, two and a half weeks later, he voted with National in the Third and final reading of the Government Communications Security Bureau Amendment Bill (now an Act) which passed it into law.

Now everyone in New Zealand could have their privacy invaded.

I blogged on the issue here: Parliamentary spies and games – some bad numbers

When governments pass laws extending the powers of the State’s security organisations, and increase surveillance capabilities of spy agencies, then it has created a fertile environment where privacy is no longer as sacrosanct  as it once was. Whether it be police stopping motorists at random to detect potential drunk drivers*;  a private investigator recording a conversation; or one government agency passing private emails on to another; or covert surveillance on potentially all New Zealanders,  a new norm has been created.

Michelle Boag may be indignant at being stopped on her way to her golf on a Saturday morning – but her right to unimpeded travel on our roads was extinguished a long time ago. The State now has the right to stop her as, when, and however, it’s security agencies ‘deem necessary’.

She may even have her phone and internet tapped, should she ever run foul of a future government.

All perfectly legal.

I love it when National’s quasi-fascistic law and order policies eventually catch up with it’s own supporters.

Thank you, Lady Karma.

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"We are from the government we are here to help. - Ruatoki, 15 October 2007

    “We are from the government, we are here to help.” – Ruatoki, 15 October 2007

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* Footnote:
It should be noted that this blogger has no problem with random breath-testing conducted by Police. Whilst this country is awash with cheap, easily-available booze; and whilst New Zealanders refuse to address our penchant for binge-drinking, random breath testing is one of the few means we have to protect ourselves and our families from liquored-up drivers. Michelle Boag needs to get over her preciousness and sense of entitlement in this regard. The next drink driver the police catch could be one  on her road, as she drives to her golfing rendezvous.

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References

TVNZ Q+A:  Panel on arming the Police

Wikipedia: Government Communications Security Bureau

Fairfax media: National Party boss alleges covert filming

Fairfax Media:  Emails given to inquiry

Parliament: Government Communications Security Bureau Amendment Bill

Previous related blogposts

Parliamentary spies and games – some bad numbers

National Party president complains of covert filming – oh the rich irony!

It is 1984. It is ALWAYS 1984

National’s disdain for democracy and dissent

Those who love Big Brother

Welcome to new glorious People’s Republic of New Zealand

From the Horses mouth

Today’s irony was brought to you courtesy of former ACT MP and Govt Minister, Rodney Hide

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 28 Octobr 2015.

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National’s Ohariu candidate admits contact by Simon Lusk

6 September 2014 4 comments

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Wellington, NZ, 31  August – At a meet-the-candidates public meeting in the Rongotai Electorate, National’s Ohariu candidate, Brett Hudson, confirmed that he had been approached by “a mate”, who passed on a message from  National Party operative, Simon Lusk.

Simon Lusk is a far right-wing apparatchik who runs a private, self-styled “candidates school” for potential National Party candidates. Amongst those National MPs linked to Lusk are Taupo MP Louise Upston, Maungakiekie MP Sam Lotu-Iiga, Napier MP Chris Tremain, Rodney MP Mark Mitchell and former list MP Aaron Gilmore. Disgraced Minister, Judith Collins, is also an  associate of  Simon Lusk.

The media reported that some National Party insiders were so concerned by Lusk’s activities  that they leaked documents to the media in 2012, and the following year. At least one senior Minister, Michael Woodhouse, discussed his growing unease with National’s president, Peter Goodfellow .

Brett Hudson

On Sunday, this blogger put a direct question to National’s Ohariu candidate, Brett Hudson, enquiring  if he has had any recent contact with Simon Lusk; Lusk’s so-called “college for candidates”; Cameron Slater, or any of their associates.

Hudson confirmed that he had been approached, explaining that he had been offered Simon Lusk’s services through a third party,

“I have [had an] indirect approach. Someone else had said that, that gentleman had said if your mate wants to get involved, let me know. And I turned it down.”

When I enquired who that “someone else” had been, Hudson refused to disclose the name.

“I’m not going to name who it was, it’s not relevant to this situation.”

Hudson insisted,

“They just said, I’ve had a message from this guy Lusk, who sez if your mate is interested let me know. Tell him to get in touch.”

Hudson stated categorically that the un-named person who approached him was not National Party parliamentary staffer, Jason Ede.

When questioned further, Hudson stated,

“I’ve no contact with Slater or Lusk. I have no intention to never, nor would ever consider entering their scheme.

So I made my own message, which I think it was Facebook, I can’t recall exactly, just went to Lusk, and don’t want to participate.”

Upon further questioning, Hudson confirmed that he contacted Lusk directly to decline the offer,

“It was just a message to say I’m not interested… so I’m not involved, I’ve had no conversations.”

When I asked when this exchange took place, Hudson was vague, and said,

“I can’t recall, last year probably. Or even… probably… could’ve been late 2012. I don’t know. Honestly, ‘cos I’ve no intention of being involved.”

I asked when he was selected as a candidate and Hudson replied,

“End of April this year.”

I asked,

“End of April this year? So why would he have contacted you… in 2012?”

Hudson replied,

“Because if he wanted people to join his college, which as I understand it, and I don’t know, but it would be a paid for thing, then maybe he was touting for business, I don’t know.”

Hudson was emphatic when he denied all involvement with Lusk;

“And also I think the message was, if your mate was interested then he could contact me. And I said I’m not interested.”

Despite repeated enquiries,  he refused to name who the “mate” was who acted as a go-between him and Lusk.

Interestingly, Hudson joined Facebook on 5 May 2011, so why would Lusk have offered his services through a so-called third party, rather than FB messaging Hudson directly?

Especially when Brett Hudson is one of  Simon Lusk’s FB friends;

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Lusk - Hudson facebook friends

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Lusk does not appear on Brett Hudson’s FB friends list.

If Hudson was approached by a “third party”, there are two well-known associates of Simon Lusk who appear on Brett Hudson’s Facebook Friends list; right-wing lawyer Jordan Williams, and blogger, David Farrar;

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Chris Finlayson

At another public meeting in Rongotai, on the same day, National’s Treaty Negotiations Minister and Attornery General, Chris Finlayson was also asked what dealings, if any, he had had with Simon Lusk or Cameron Slater.

At this point, as I put the question to Finlayson, National Party supporters attempted to shout me down. Nearly all middle-aged men and women, their behaviour was mob-like, reminding me of the “F**k John Key” Youtube video we have seen recently,  and attempted to stop me from questioning the Minister.  They took particular exception to a hand-held voice-recorder in my hand. One particularly observant older National supporter yelled, with a hint of panic,

“He’s got a recorder! He’s got a recorder!”

I turned to the greying-haired lady and responded,

“Why yes, so it is.”

The chair of the meeting felt the need to address the matter and called for a voice “vote” on whether or not I should record Finlayson’s response to my question. The loud vocal braying from the National Party supporters would have done a village mob proud, with one National supporter sitting directly behind me adding,

“Sit down! Not relevant!”

At the Chair’s request, I turned my recorder off and said,

“But I will put the question, as it’s an important election issue.”

Minister Finlayson responded (with far more grace than his supporters, I might add). The following notes were jotted contemporaneously,

“No, [I] haven’t been contacted by them. I haven’t read the book. But all I know is I think they called me a tosser who tried to speak latin.”

I thanked the minister, sat down,  and turned to the National Party supporter seated behind me,

“Are you a National or Conservative Party (he had cheered and clapped for several comments made by the Conservative candidate) supporter?”

Doesn’t matter, irrelevent,” he replied.

“Well, it is relevent. You’ve expressed strong views and I’d like to know where you’re coming from.”

“No, irrelevent, just like your question to Chris,” he said.

I replied, “it can’t be ‘irrelevent’, because it’s a major election issue.”

“Well,” he said with some smugness, “we’ll have to agree to disagree then, won’t we?”

I replied,

“Really? That didn’t stop you from trying to shut me down, did it?”

At the conclusion of the public question and answer session, I approached Chris Finlayson and introduced myself. I asked if he would go on record, to answer my question. The Minister seemed quite happy to do so, and added an interesting ‘aside’.

I asked,

“So you’ve never had no contact or anything with Simon Lusk or  Cameron Slater, say in the last year or so?”

Finlayson replied, without any hesitation,

“I’ve never had contact with them.”

He added,

“I suggest you ask the same question of Stuart Nash, the Labour candidate in Napier.”

When I asked why I should ask Nash that question, Finlayson refused to say why, and instead repeated that I should put the question to him.

Accordingly, I have put the question to  Stuart Nash via  Facebook messaging,

Kia ora Stuart,

I’m putting together a story for the Daily Blog, regarding Simon Lusk and Cameron Slater, and your name has come up in discussions with certain people. Can you confirm what dealings you have had with Simon Lusk (or his intermediary) , and what services he has offered you for your election campaign? Have you paid any money for any services he might offer, or has any amount been agreed on? Furthermore, what was the nature of the agreement and did it refer to the Mana-Internet Party? Also, are you aware of other Labour candidates who are currently in contact with Simon Lusk (or his intermediary, or Cameron Slater). I look forward to your responses on these questions, to shed some light on matters that have arisen.

The message was seen at 1.46am on 1 September, but no reply has been forthcoming.

Mr Nash, if you wish to reply and address the question, the opportunity is still open.

It is the contention of this blogger that Cameron Slater and his dealings are a matter of intense public interest. People who are putting themselves up for election to Parliament should have nothing to hide when it comes to disclosing what contacts they have had with controversial public figures and matters of considerable public interest.

I will continue to ask these questions, and noisy supporters of National (or Labour) would be well advised that attempting to shout down the truth does not serve their interests.

 

 


 

References

NZ Herald: National Party had high-level concerns over member’s influence

NZ Herald: National turns on hard right advisor

Fairfax media:  Seriously happy to upset the status quo

TVNZ News:  National Party selects Ohariu candidate

Facebook: Simon Lusk FB Page – Friends

NZ Parliament: Chris Finlayson

Previous related blogposts

Power Struggle in the National Party?!

David Farrar – Challenging Slater for Sultan of Sleaze?

National MP admits collusion with bosses to set up strike-breaking law!!

Other blogs

The Paepae: Simon Lusk in the headlines again!


 

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20 september 2014 VOTE

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 2 September 2014

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Dunne won’t read ‘muck-raking’ Dirty Politics

2 September 2014 1 comment

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peter dunne - dirty politics

 

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Full story: Dunne won’t read ‘muck-raking’ Dirty Politics

Because as we all know, ignorance is such bliss. Eh, Mr Dunne?

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National under attack – defaults to Deflection #1

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Labour forced our hand on timing - key

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Blaming the Labour Party? Blaming a Party that is not in government, and has been out of office for five years?! How does that even begin to work as sounding plausible?!

This is a new “variant” on the three deflections that National defaults to when it scrambles to avoid taking responsibility for it’s botch-ups. Those three default-deflections are;

  1. Blame previous Labour government
  2. Release story on ‘welfare abuse’
  3. Blame Global Financial Crisis or similar overseas event

In this case blaming the previous Labour government won’t wash. Legal highs/psychoactive substances were barely known prior to 2008.

So it seems that blaming the current Labour Party will have to do instead.

II

The news-story on the RNZ page made reference to Key claiming “ cabinet decided last Tuesday on a ban but wanted to keep quiet about it to cut down on stockpiling by consumers“.

But listen to the actual interview and words used by  Dear Leader;

John Key: “Because the fortyone that we decided some time ago, in principle, we decided the Health Department made the wrong call in giving them a waiver. Now, we-“

Susie Ferguson: “And when did you decide this?”

John Key: “We decided that in Cabinet some while ago.”

Susie Ferguson: “Peter Dunne said it was agreed last Tuesday.”

John Key: “Yup, that’s some while ago…”

Since when   “some time ago” equate to last week?

Lying hound.

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References

Radio NZ: Labour forced our hand on timing – Key

Radio NZ: PM defends timing of legal highs decision ( audio )

Previous related blogs

National under attack – defaults to Deflection #2


 

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Peter Dunne

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 29 April 2014.

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Peter Dunne – willing seller & buyer

22 August 2013 2 comments

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NZ spy agencies need urgent review

Source: Marlborough Express – NZ spy agencies need urgent review

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Peter Dunne and John Key are knocking back a couple of 100 year old scotches from Dear Leader’s private stock. They’re both pissed, and Key looks at Dunne and asks,

“Peter, would you bend over my Prime Ministerial desk and let met shag you from behind, if I paid you a million bucks?”

Peter Dunne – knowing that Key can afford a million dollars from his “Uncle Scrooge” petty cash tin, and considering how useful that money would be for next year’s election campaign replies,

“Why, yes, I would, John.”

Key grins slyly and carries on,

“Peter, what if I paid you half a million? Would that still be ok with you for a bit of rear-rogering?”

Dunne is a bit deflated. Half a million is not as much as a full million… but still, it’s better than nothing to fund his campaign.

He replies,

“Sure, John. Half a million would be ok, I guess,” and stands up to undo his belt.

“What about fifty bucks?” asks Key, downing the last of his glass of $50K-per-bottle scotch.

Dunne, fuming, screams at him,

“What?! Fifty bucks?!?! What do you take me for?!!!”

Key cooly replies,

“Oh, I think we both know what you are. We’re just haggling for the price, now…”

(With apologies – I know it’s an old joke…)

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USA, Vietnam, Peter Dunne – Pot, Kettle.

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US criticizes Vietnam new Internet control decree

Source: NZ Herald – US criticizes Vietnam new Internet control decree

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The US Embassy in Vietnam goes on to state,

“Fundamental freedoms apply online just as they do offline,” the embassy said in a statement. “We are deeply concerned by the decree’s provisions that appear to limit the types of information individuals can share via personal social media accounts and on websites.”

Source: IBID

Yes, of course our American cuzzies want the Vietnamese people to allow ”  information individuals can share via personal social media accounts and on websites”.

Then their National Security Agency (NSA) and Britain’s GCHQ can mine that data via their PRISM,  XKeyscore, and god-only-knows what other systems are used to store data on citizens.

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XKeyscore - NSA tool collects 'nearly everything a user does on the internet'

Source: The Guardian – XKeyscore: NSA tool collects ‘nearly everything a user does on the internet’

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The government of Vietnam is right to be concerned with what it’s citizens may put online. With British and American spy agencies trawling the planet for information, it is now a matter of national security that nations protect themselves from this illegal spying.  The internet poses a real danger to victims of this rampant,  out-of-control spying.

The sheer hypocrisy of the US Embassy when it piously states that    “Fundamental freedoms apply online just as they do offline” is breath-taking in arrogance.

It’s like Big Brother throwing a tanty when someone refuses to share their personal information, thus thwarting the spooks who are patiently waiting to hoover up the data.

Meanwhile, the Opposition parties, led by the Greens, have succeeded in stalling the passing of the GCSB and Related Legislation Amendment Bill for two weeks.

Their ‘filibustering’ has successfully stalled the passing of the Bill, as this Radio NZ report explains,

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Legislation covering the Government Communications Security Bureau won’t pass all the way through Parliament this week as had been hoped by the Government.

The bill is now in its committee stages, where MPs debate it clause by clause.  The opposition has employed delaying tactics since Question Time on Tuesday afternoon.  An urgent debate on the Fonterra contamination scare delayed the debate further.

The Government will have to wait at least two weeks to pass the controversial legislation.

Source: Radio NZ – GCSB bill won’t pass this week

This gives opponants to the GCSB and Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bills an opportunity to grow opposition and to educate the public what is at stake.

As for Peter Dunne, who is complaining about protesters targetting his home – my sympathy for him is zero.

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Dunne lashes back at noisy protesters

Source: Dominion Post – Dunne lashes back at noisy protesters

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Protester, Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati is 100% quite right when she says that their presence is to  “to give him a taste of what it feels like to have your privacy intruded on“.

Mr Dunn doesn’t like being surveilled?

Neither do we.

Do the right thing, Mr Dunne – vote the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill and GCSB and Related Legislation Amendment Bill down.

It’s the decent thing to do.

You still have time.

Don’t be John Key’s errand boy.

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What would George Orwell – author of ‘1984’ – have made of all this, I wonder?

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 8 August 2013.

 

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The GCSB Act – some history…

4 August 2013 15 comments

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spying

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New Zealand, 2003

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From an excerpt from Hansards in Parliament, on 27 March 2003, when the original GCSB Bill was being debated;

“This is a good bill. I do not accept the criticism of those who speak against it, that somehow it means that information about people will be gathered improperly…”

Source: Hansards – Government Communications Security Bureau Bill — Third Reading

Who said that?

Why, no other than this gentleman;

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Peter Dunne

Peter Dunne

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Ten years later after Dunne made that statement, it was revealed  that his faith in the GCSB was badly misplaced,

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Illegal spying - 85 Kiwis watched - Fairfax Media - Andrea Vance - Kitteridge Report - 85 people spied on

Source: Fairfax Media – Illegal Spying: 85 Kiwis Watched

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So in March 2003, Mr Dunne was adamant:  he did not accept criticism “that information about people will be gathered improperly”.

I think those 85 (actually 88) people – including Kim Dotcom – might have differing views on that point.

I wonder if Mr Dunne is also adamant about the current Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill and it’s “sister-legislation, the  Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill?

Will “information about people will be gathered improperly”?

What say you, Mr Dunne?

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= fs =

Categories: The Body Politic Tags: ,

Nationwide rally condemns animal testing for party-drugs (part rua)

3 August 2013 5 comments

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Continued from: Nationwide rally condemns animal testing for party-drugs (part tahi)

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30 July - rally - protest - animal testing - party pills - Peter Dunne - Parliament - synthetic cannabis - Psychoactive Substances Bill

Image courtesy of  HUHANZ

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NZ, Wellington, 30 July – Thousands of animal rights campaigners,  animal lovers, and other people who oppose testing party drugs and synthetic cannabis on animals protested against the Psychoactive Substances Bill on Tuesday 30 July.

TV3’s news crew filming the protesters;

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I don’t want to die for someone to get high” – a good point. And one that National ministers and Peter Dunne seem unwilling to address;

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Ok, this is right off the Cuteness Scale factor;

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(But animal testing on these party pills is still wrong, regardless of cuteness or not.)

The legalise-cannabis lobby were represented by this gentleman;

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legalise cannabis

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It has been said that real cannabis is actually safer (in adults) than the synthetic stuff. Plus it’s been  “consumer-tested” for hundreds (thousands) of years. So wouldn’t it make more sense to de-criminalise the natural stuff and ban the synthetic variety?

Or is that too much common sense for politicians to handle?

About half an hour later, the procession moved off,

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The procession, at the northern end of Wellington’s Cuba Mall – on the right;

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… and on the left, waiting to set off across Dixon Street;

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And the marchers – four-legged as well as two – were off;

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After a brisk march through Wellington’s CBD, the rally ended up in Parliament’s grounds beneath the stature of Richard Seddon;

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Rally Organiser and HUHA founder, Carolyn Press-McKenzie, addressed the rally, surrounded by MPs and media crews;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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Epsom MP, John Banks, was the first MP to address the rally;

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https://fmacskasy.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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In a somewhat fervant speech, Banks said,

“I say no to farming animals in China and India for the purposes of drug testing.  I say no to putting animals at the alter of drug dealers and importing for the purpose of recreational drugs…”

…I say to my Parliament colleagues testing fun drugs on animals is obscene.It is obscene in a country that prides itself on animal welfare and  animal ethics. Britain banned testing; Britain banned testing of fun drugs on animals in 1997. The EU has banned the  testing of cosmetrics of on that beautiful rabbit down there some years ago.

… If we want to be leaders; if we want to be leaders in the safety of fun drugs in this country, if it’s necessary to have these mind-changing chemicals, then test them on the idiots that want to take  them, because there’s hundreds that want  to do it. There are hundreds and hundreds of idiots up and and down the country that will willingly take fun drugs to test their toxicity.

…And I say to my Parliamentary colleagues,  don’t test them on animals at all!”

He looked pleased at the crowd’s response, obviously enjoying the cheers to his speech. (He probably hasn’t received such cheers and applause since he sat down to  a nice cuppa tea with the Prime Minister, in November 2011.)

Green MP, Mojo Mathers, was next to address the rally;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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“I am angry! I am angry that animals are going  to have to suffer.  I am angry that animals are going to have to die, for the sake of  a legal high. I am angry because the government has not been listening! The government is ignoring public opinion! It ignoring your conscience.  Because the the general public has a conscience! The general public cares. The general public does not want to see animals suffering in  this way!
The government has ignored the hundreds of people who have put in a huge amount of time and energy to provide detailed information [and] submissions on the Bill, on the issue of animal testing. And what happened? The Select Committee said “no we won’t hear you”! That was wrong! The information these people have in their submissions is directly relevant to the issues of the Bill. Because what that information showed was that there are alternatives to animal testing. And that we care about our young people. We can’t use these alternatives [background noise]  for safety.
The Government ignored the 64,000 people who signed the petition in one month.And this government voted against my amendment that would have ruled out these awful tests. That is apalling and I am angry about that. I am angry that the government covered it’s ears and hands over it’s eyes and refused to look at the evidence of alternative tests and refused to rule out animal. testing of party pills.”

Mojo said,

And we have to keep up the pressure!”

And I intend to keep up the pressure in Parliament. The Animal Welfare Amendment Bill is another opportunity to keep up the pressure and I will be asking for Party Pill testing on animals to be ruled out of this Bill.”

She added,

“What you have done here by coming out en masse today is that you’ve shown this government that you  are not going to forget this issue.”

Mojo’s speech received an enthisiatic  response from protesters and organisers alike;

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Labour MP, Iain Lees-Galloway, also took an opportunity to speak to the rally;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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“I sat on the Health Committee when we considered to the Psychoactive Substances Bill. And I want to tell you about how the National Party completely refused to listen to any of the discussion around animal welfare.
When we received all the submissions; we received all those hundreds of submissions saying that people wanted to come to the Select Commitee and talk about animal welfare and wanted to make your voices heard and make the animal’s voices heard, in front of us, the people who are making the decisions about the Bill…
…The Select Committee had to eventually to  have a vote about whether or not we would hear those submissions. And the vote actually  went five/five. There’s five National Party members on the Select Committee. They voted against hearing your submissions.
The other five members are  from Labour, The Greens, and New Zealand First and we voted in favour of hearing your submissions.”

Ian Lees Galloway said that the motion to hear submissions was lost, in favour of the status quo. He said,

“That was a decision  by the National Party and I think it’s a real shame [cheering drowned out speaker] that the National Party is not interested in giving you your democratic right to be heard by Parliament. We have a wonderful transparent system in New Zealand where everybody has the right to be heard about whatever piece of legislation we are putting through Parliament. And you had your democratic right taken away from you by the National Party.
So I want you to know that the Labour Party voted in favour of Mojo’s amendement. We did not want to see animal testing… for party pills. And I agree with Mojo’s recommendation to you, which is that we have the Animal Welfare Bill coming up next. That is the opportunity to have your voice heard again. Make sure the National Party understands that you want to be heard about this and that you want to get in  front of the Select Committee that is considering the Animal Welfare Bill, because you have a democratic right to be heard and Labour will  support you all the way on that.”

Inexplicably, as  Carolyn Press-McKenzie pointed out,  no National Ministers, nor Peter Dunne, appeared to present their case to the rally. Perhaps their courage deserted them on this day.

Never mind, I’m sure that there will be many in Mr Dunne’s elecorate who, next year at election time, will be only too happy to attend public meetings and ask Mr Dunne a few pertinent questions.

Politicians can run and hide – but eventually they have to surface, to seek our votes again.

We can wait, Mr Dunne, Mr Key, et al.

Expect us.

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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Near the conclusion of the rally, Ms Press-McKenzie handed new evidence for alternative testing to John Banks, and asked him to present it to the Prime Minister.

Banks accepted the documents and acknowledged that the submission would be passed on to John Key.

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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Grumpy cat is not happy. Politicians would do well not to annoy Grumpy cat;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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One hopes that National listens to public concerns on this issue. Because it seems that their Focus Group polling is not delivering the message that, generally,  the public are disgusted with the notion of testing synthetic highs on animals, so that a small minority  can enjoy a moment of chemically-induced pleasure.

There is more than a hint of disquiet on this issue – for many it is quite obscene.

So never mind the morality of this issue – evidently morality doesn’t factor with National MPs.

Let’s talk votes then. How many votes can possibly be in this issue for the Nats?

Bugger all, I suspect.

It could be said that National “gone soft on drugs and animal welfare”.  How will that play out with animal lovers at the next election, I wonder?

Not very well, I think.

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"Emo", the bunny

“Emo”, the bunny

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 1 August 2013.

Links

Helping You Help Animals (facebook)

Helping You Help Animals (Website)

SAFE  (website)

References

Parliament: Psychoactive Substances Bill

Parliament: Psychoactive Substances Bill – Related Documents

Green Party: Psychoactive Substances Bill could have been great

Copyright (c)  Notice

All images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

  •     Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  •     At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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Nationwide rally condemns animal testing for party-drugs (part tahi)

3 August 2013 2 comments

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30 July - rally - protest - animal testing - party pills - Peter Dunne - Parliament - synthetic cannabis - Psychoactive Substances Bill

Image courtesy of  HUHANZ

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NZ, Wellington, 30 July – Thousands of animal rights campaigners,  animal lovers, and other people who oppose testing party drugs and synthetic cannabis on animals protested against the Psychoactive Substances Bill on Tuesday 30 July.

The weather was beautiful – warm, sunny, and an almost cloudless sky. Aside from a wintery nip in shadowed areas, it was like a fine spring or summer day. Proof, perhaps, that the deity of your choice is a keen animal lover.

In Wellington,around 500 people assembled at Cuba Mall’s landmark bucket fountain;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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They were armed with placards expressing their views, and with determined certainty that animal testing was morally, ethically, and humanly just plain wrong;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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When animals can’t speak for themselves, their human companions must – and do – speak for them;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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There was a consistent message through the placards and people’s comments; if you want to take party pills and synthetic cannabis, accept responsibility for their dangerous properties – but don’t test them on animals. Our pleasure is not to be had at the sake of innocent creatures;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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Indeed, their lives are in our hands – which in itself says a lot about ourselves that we have such power of life and death over other species;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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This placard asks a very good question;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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TV3’s film crew interviewing some of the protesters;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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As a side note, there was good coverage by both TV1 and TV3 News on the nationwide rallies. Indeed, the reporting was better and fairer than the anti-spy Bill rallies held on Saturday 27 July.

More of our furry companions at the rally;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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These were ordinary New Zealanders expressing their opposition to animal testing – not “politically-motivated” activists. Something that National ministers should take into consideration when looking at this Bill;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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“We want our voices heard” – but is National listening? Or has their arrogance made them deaf to the concerns of New Zealanders?

National should remember – these people vote;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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Can any National Minister answer this question;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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The next placard shames the government. Hopefully though, the protester meant “Don’t Vote [for National]“. Not voting at all is not resistance – it is surrender;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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Engaged in street theatre. Note “Cosmic” in the background. “Cosmic”  is a known retailer of party pills/synthetic cannabis;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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Just before mid-day today (31 July), I phoned Mark Carswell, owner of the “Cosmic”-chain, to ask his views on the animal-rights rallies held around the country.

When asked to comment, Mark’s responded;

“I’ve been way on holiday mate, so I’ve  just sat down on my desk again and I’m just getting…I’m just actually  finding out what’s going on, but at this  stage I’ve no comment.”

Let’s hope Mark finds out what is going on soon.

People like this lady will be very keen to know Mark’s position on this  problem;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013-15.jpg

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And the lives of animals like these will be at risk;

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SAFE (Save Animals from Exploitation) were visibly present at the rally;

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SAFE Executive Director, Hans Kriek,has said,

It is obvious to most of us that torturing animals to death for the sake of unnecessary recreational drugs is completely unethical.

Animals should not suffer just because drug manufacturers want to get rich by getting people high.

There are plenty of non-animal tests available that can determine the safety of party drugs, so leaving the door open to (possibly cheaper) animal testing methods is deplorable.

It is hard to believe that animal tests could provide reliable results anyway. Testing a psychoactive drug on a rat or dog for a few weeks or even months is hardly going to prove that it is safe for a human who may take the drug for many years.

How many people will suffer brain damage in the future in the mistaken belief that the drugs they use are safe because they have been tested on animals?

Source: Kapiti Independent – Hans Kriek Writes

The following image, showing Key holding a cute kitten, is a well-known image on the ‘net. This protester has created a whole new meaning to it;

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wellington-anti-animal-testing-rally-30-july-2013

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Sometimes, political photo-ops can end up in  unforeseen situations. I’d say this one has bitten our Smile & Wave Prime Minister on his $50 million dollar backside.

Continued at: Nationwide rally condemns animal testing for party-drugs (part rua)

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 1 August 2013.

Links

Helping You Help Animals (facebook)

Helping You Help Animals (Website)

SAFE  (website)

References

Parliament: Psychoactive Substances Bill

Parliament: Psychoactive Substances Bill – Related Documents

Green Party: Psychoactive Substances Bill could have been great

Copyright (c)  Notice

All images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

  •     Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  •     At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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= fs =

Parliamentary spies and games – some bad numbers

3 August 2013 11 comments

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The latest revelations add more murkiness to this scandal. It seems that my question here – How deep is Key in this mess? – is slowly being answered. (Expect a snap election when the full extent of Key’s involvement is finally revealed.)

The revelations of shady dealings and privacy violations just keep getting worse;

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Emails given to inquiry

Source:  Fairfax Media – Emails given to inquiry

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Interestingly, a Fairfax poll associated with the above story (note: not scientific) contradicts a recent Roy Morgan poll, showing Dear Leader in a somewhat bad light,

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How is the prime minister handling the Parliamentary phone records scandal

Source: IBID

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But what really boggles the mind and makes you want to scream to the heavens is that Peter Dunne – whose email and telephone records were illegally passed on to the Henry Inquiry, by Parliamentary Services, and has had his privacy violated – is still intending to vote for the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill and Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill – which will allow the GCSB, SIS, et al to spy on all New Zealanders.

Peter Dunne is not learning a single damn thing from his current situation.

Which makes Dunne’s outrage on this derisable,

“While I understand this was an inadvertent action, and that the file was returned within a very short period of time to Parliamentary Services, this is a serious breach of privacy.

No approval had been given or even sought for access to this material .

The material was released to the inquiry on 21 May – the day before Mr Henry asked for access to my emails, which I refused.

While I am further given to understand that the file was unable to be opened by the inquiry and have been assured therefore that none of the emails were actually read by the inquiry, I am nonetheless extremely concerned and angry about this gross, unauthorised breach of personal privacy, especially since it was my refusal to authorise access to the content of those emails that brought about my resignation as a minister,”

Source: IBID

Cry to someone who cares, Mr Dunne.

To be blunt; why the hell should I be concerned about the invasion of Peter Dunne’s privacy, when he is obviously not in the least concerned about ours?!

As far as I’m concerned, Karma has visited upon Peter Dunne’s head.

The sooner Ohariu voters throw this clown out of Parliament, the better for the whole country.

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Radio NZ: Focus on Politics for 2 August 2013

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– Focus on Politics –

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– Friday 2 August 2013 –

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– Brent Edwards –

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A weekly analysis of significant political issues.

Friday after 6:30pm and Saturday at 5:10pm

The Prime Minister remained defiant this week despite evidence emerging his office had pressured the Parliamentary Service to release phone records to the inquiry into the leak of the Kitteridge report on the GCSB.

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Radio NZ logo - Focus on Politics

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Click to listen: Focus on Politics for 2 August 2013 ( 17′ 38″ )

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Acknowledgement: Radio NZ

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Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part toru)

30 July 2013 2 comments

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Continued from: Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part rua)

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Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com march - 27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand

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NZ, Wellington, 27 July – The peaceful protest march had arrived at Parliament without incident, and people were in good spirits.

The way that democracy is under threat in New Zealand (see: Defence rates investigative journalists as threat), this protester had a point;

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The numbers swelled on Parliament’s grassy grounds;

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Protest organiser, Ariana, welcomed people and explained why the GCSB Bill (and it’s sister Bill, the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill) were a threat to our free, open, and democratic way of life in this country;

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A simple appeal from a New Zealander to the government; please don’t spy on me;

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Question – when did we arrive at a state in our affairs when we have to plead for privacy from our own government?

When you think about it, the image below is spot-on. It is more than a little pervy for the State to be spying on it’s citizens and reading all manner of intimate emails, and other electronic communications;

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Young people who wanted their message seen;

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The flags of Mana and The Greens, fluttering in the unseasonably warm July breeze;

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Mick’s telescope, set up to peer up at the Ninth Floor of the Beehive;

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Were there really on “500” people attending, as the media (except TVNZ) claimed? Look for yourself;

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Is that a  statue of Lenin holding the red flag?!

And another shot of the rally numbers ;

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That looks a tad more than “500” to me. My guesstimate – between 3,000 to 5,000 people.

Green Party co-Leader addressed the rally. He said that when National MPs sneer at you, remember that they are frightened of you.

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With a wry grin, and semi-seriously, Russell  also suggested that everyone submit OIA requests to the GCSB asking how many had attended the rallies around the country. He said it might be fun to tie them up so they could not spy on us.

He finished of by repeating that “we should reject mass surveillance and reject this Bill“.

Billy McKee, from the Green Cross, then addressed the rally, vowing that he would lead an occupation to oppose this Bill;

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Organiser, Ariana, interviewed by a TV1 News team;

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Ploughshares Aotearoa Peace campaigner, Adrian Leason, who along with two other activists,  entered the Waihopai spy base and deflated one of the domes, addressed the rally;

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He encouraged concerned citizens everywhere to “disarm the plastic covers on the spybase” and put the facility out of operation. He said the Waihopai base spied on the United Nations, including diplomats and staff.

Adrian told the rally that Warner Bros had requested the GCSB to spy on Kim Dotcom. He said that worrying about the loss of our privacy was only “one piece of the bigger puzzle”.

His address was warmly received by the rally.

Civil liberties campaigner/Tech Liberty co-founder, Thomas Beagle,  followed;

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Thomas said that the GCSB bill was about “mass surveillance”  and expanding the power of the State,

“It’s about spying on everyone, no matter what they’ve done, no matter what they’re going to do. This sort of mass surveillance changes the balance of power in our society away from the people and towards the state.

I believe in the right to privacy, I believe in the right to sit in my house and call my friends on the phone without the Government listening.

I believe in freedom of expression and freedom of association, for people not being scared into silence because they are being watched by Government spies.”

[Blogger’s note: actual quote taken from msm.]

The next speaker was veteran peace and social justice campaigner, Valerie Morse;

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Valerie read out a long list of legislation that successive governments had passed over the last decade that had, in some way, taken away some aspect of our civil liberties;  increased the power of the State; or elevated the primacy of corporate power over our own rights.

She condemned the GCSB’s close links to American spy agencies, saying that we “do not need our every movement logged by the NSA“.

Valerie said that the greatest struggle was to protect our freedoms. She said,

“Enough, we will not take any more. The struggle goes on for a free society.”

It was an amazing turnout for Wellington, Valerie said; “we are winning!”

Following Valerie, CTU President, Helen Kelly addressed the rally;

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Helen said that this government was becoming a bully. She said, “Don’t buy into ‘nothing to fear so have nothing to hide. We all have things we want to hide and keep to ourselves“. That was called privacy, she said.

Helen reminded the rally that this government has been abusing its power by persecuting beneficiaries and has only recently tried to access a journalist’s records in the Peter Dunne case,

“Peter Dunne – who did not want his emails read!”

Following Helen was Rimutaka Labour MP, Chris Hipkins;

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Chris said that there was a fundamental principle that we all have a right to privacy. He criticised Ohariu MP, Peter Dunne as “wrong to sell his vote“.

Chris then announced the following policy statement,

“We will work to have it repealed!”

Chris’s policy pledge echoes that of Labour MP, David Cunliffe, who announced at an anti GCSB Bill  public meeting in Auckland on Friday 26 July,

“The Labour Party has a proud tradition of taking on evil and inequitous legislation whether it’s apartheid or nuclear weapons or other things of that nature. Our leader has committed to a thourough review of this legislation and based upon what’ve have heard tonight, I personally, and I’m sure my caucus colleagues, will be of the view that this legislation must not, will not, and cannot stand!”

See previous blogpost: David Cunliffe announces Labour Govt will repeal GCSB Bill!! **Updated**

This is another clear indication that Labour is committed to repealing this damnable piece of legislation, should it lead the next government.

We will hold them to that promise.

In which case, what does it profit National, and it’s smile and wave leader, to pass unpopular legislation, knowing that it will not survive a change of government?

In Kiwi parlance, the Nats are  on a hiding to nowhere.

Time to give it up, Mr Key.

Brief vid of Wellington street march

Source: Youtube – Chris Russell

Blogger’s Postscript

Ironically, it is Peter Dunne who will not release his email correspondence between himself and Fairfax journalist, Andrea Vance, insisting on his privacy – or “Parliamentary privilege”, as he calls it.

Dunne insists on maintaining his privacy (whilst voting away ours). When Inquiry head, David Henry, requested Parliamentary Service access to Andrea Vance’s internal office telephone records, he was indignant,

“They went far too far. It’s now clear he didn’t have the authority to do what he claimed to do. The fact that a journalist’s records were sought without her approval is a significant impingement on her rights and freedoms.”

I hope Parliament’s air-conditioning is working properly. The stench of hypocrisy must be over-powering.

Meanwhile, from South Korea, Dear Leader Key responded to Saturday’s nationwide street marches,

“I accept there are some that will always feel a bit nervous about privacy and their own rights, but I can give you the best assurance I can that we’re very careful and cautious about what we do as a state. But in the end we do have to protect the interests in New Zealanders.”

Source: NZ Herald – Protest marches against GCSB bill across NZ

The public though – or at least a considerable majority – do not trust Key as much as he would believe,

A 3News Reid Research poll released on Thursday night asked 1000 voters who they believed – 52 per cent said Dotcom, 34 per cent said John Key, and the rest didn’t know or didn’t care.

Source: MSN News – Kiwis don’t believe Key over Dotcom

If I were Key, I would not be so smug and arrogant as to think that we trust him to “protect the interests in New Zealanders”.

Spying on New Zealanders is not “protecting our interests”. More likely, it suggests how much he fears us.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 29 July 2013.

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More images

Facebook: Alastair Foster

Media References

MSN News: Kiwis don’t believe Key over Dotcom

Dominion Post: Thousands join rally against GSCB

NZ herald: Protest marches against GCSB bill across NZ

TV3: Protesters turn out to oppose GCSB bill

TVNZ: Thousands of GCSB Bill protesters hit the streets

Radio NZ: Protests in Auckland, Wellington against security bill

Newstalk ZB: Anti-GCSB feelings growing – Norman

Copyright (c)  Notice

All images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

  •     Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  •     At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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= fs =

Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part rua)

30 July 2013 1 comment

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Continued from: Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part tahi)

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Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com march - 27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand

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NZ, Wellington, 27 July – Wellingtonians (and from further afield) met  downtown in Cuba Mall, to protest National’s planned GCSB Bill.

Placards ranged from professionally printed;

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– to the artistic and decorative;

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To a simple, single, word;

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Green Party co-leader, Russell Norman, walking in the midst of other marchers,

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This shy young lad, eleven years old, made his own protest placard from scratch, downloading and pasting images from the internet. This was his first protest march;

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A message that should strike anxiety the the fear of god into the hearts of politicians; losing votes when they piss people off;

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27-july-gcsb-bill-spying-peter-dunne-parliament-wellintgton-new-zealandKONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

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Who says that young people aren’t interested in politics or political issues any more?

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More young folk, with a very wise message to our elected representatives, Alex with his home-made placard;

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Alex and his hastily-crafted placard

Alex and his hastily-crafted placard

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At the intersection of Lambton Quay, Bowen St, and Whitmore St, one of the protest march organisers, Ariana (with loud-hailer), led an impromptu sit-down;

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Valerie, taking pics of the event;

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After about five or ten minutes, as the march was moving again to the gates of Parliament, this lone chap decided to yell out “retards” and other expletives at the protesters. His name is Eddie;

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Eddie

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I went up to Eddie and asked his why he called the protesters “retards”.

Eddie was upset that buses had stopped moving up Lambton Quay and he was worried that the chicken he had bought at the supermarket would develop salmonella. He said the protesters should be marching along the footpath and not the road. I asked Eddie how 3,000 to 5,000 people could fit onto a footpath.

He had no response.  He said the protest should have taken place when people weren’t at work. I suggested to him that a protest march of this size would be less of a nuisance to traffic on a Saturday afternoon than had been held during the week. I then asked him if he knew what the issues surrounding the GCSB Bill were, and that maybe it was important enough to warrant a temporary, minor inconvenience.

At first Eddie denied knowing anything about the issue. When asked again, he admitted knowing that the GCSB’s powers were to be expanded “to spy on us all”.

When I asked him if that was an important issue of public concern he muttered something and walked off.

I hope he enjoys his chicken.

Meanwhile, those with more pressing issues on their minds had reached the entrance to  Parliament – only to find that the main gate had been locked. Only two side-gates, which were barely wide enough to allow passage for one or two people at a time, were open.

Undeterred, those who were fit, young, and with enthusiastic energy went over the gates as well as around;

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Not quite the storming of the Bastille – but their hearts were in the right place;

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A note to the smart-arse news-editors on TV3 who quipped that protesters climbed over the main gate “even though there was another gate open right next to them” – mis-representing an event does not inspire confidence in your ability to be accurate and fair in your reporting.

Try getting 3,000-plus people through a small gap in any meaningful period of time. The entrance-way in question is to the right of the main gate in the image below;

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Very disappointing that TV3 chose to make such a cheap shot.

As people squeezed through the side entrances, others continued to climb the barrier. The symbolism was obvious;

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This young woman – with the sign “We are NZ!!! Not USA!” – climbed the gate and grinned with satisfaction;

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Once through (or over) the gates, New Zealand citizens made their way up the road through Parliament grounds;

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More people arrived. In this shot, you can clearly see the bottleneck at the front gates;

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Parliament’s grounds were once again in the possession of the People.

To be continued: Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part toru)

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Copyright (c)  Notice

All images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

  •     Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  •     At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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= fs =

Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part tahi)

30 July 2013 2 comments

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  march - 27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand

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NZ, Wellington, 27 July – Between 3,000 to 5,000 people (not the “500” estimated by the Dominion Post, NZ Herald, and TV3) took part in a march in Wellington on a bright, warm Saturday afternoon.

People assembled in Cuba Mall near the Bucket fountain, and when we arrived there were already at least a thousand people in attendence.

This shot looks south; the crowd extends all the way to the Cuba Mall/Ghuznee Street intersection;

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com   - 27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand

Cuba Mall – looking south

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The rest of the crowd, looking northward, from my same vantage point (on the Bucket Fountain’s wall);

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Cuba Mall was effectively packed with people who had joined the protest march. Only TV1 got the numbers right (see: Thousands of GCSB Bill protesters hit the streets)

There were people from all walks of life; all ages; all races; all demographics. Families like this one;

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L-R: Rebecca, Karl, Charley, and Alida

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I was reliably informed that Rebecca’s tongue-poking was directed at Dear Leader, and not at myself. But one cannot be 100% certain…

Many of the signs carried messages on both sides, like Mick’s;

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People’s messages were often witty and well thought out;

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Dillon and Tanya

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Other’s got straight to the point – stop stealing our human right to privacy;

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Paul and Bev from the  Ohariu electorate  both expressed their disgust at Peter Dunne’s behaviour. Neither would be voting for him again, they both said;

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Their signs had messages on both sides as well – typical ingenuity from New Zealander’s famed “no 8 fencing wire” can-do attitude;

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Dunne must be either brave or foolish to be alienating his voters in this fashion.

Shortly after we arrived, the march took off, headed to Parliament. By this time, numbers had swelled and more people would join as the march moved along Wellington’s streets;

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Politicians should take note – the protesters weren’t just radicals, activists, and suchlike – these were ordinary New Zealanders who rarely take to the streets.

What some placards lacked in political rhetoric and ideology, they more than made up in straight Kiwi talk;

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And some folk  have just had a gutsful of this increasingly autocratic government and want a chance to change things at the ballot box;

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Many of the placards were obviously home-made, by ordinary citizens. Not exactly the “rent a mob” that Key and other Tories have claimed in the past, whenever they dismiss protest movements;

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And some were downright creative in their style and message;

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Home-made or pre-printed, the messages were crystal clear; people do not want the GCSB spying on us;

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And some were pretty ‘earthy’ in their wording – but I think most fair minded folk can empathise with the passion behind the message;

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More creativity;

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Even  businesspeople  like  Helen and Chelfyn were out on the street to protest. They found a simple, but novel way to  spoof the threat of many eyes watching us,

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To be continued: Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part rua)

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Copyright (c)  Notice

All images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

  •     Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  •     At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

.

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= fs =

2013 – The Year We Became a Policed Surveillance State

30 July 2013 2 comments

Mark 2013AD  in our history books. It is the year that we became a Policed Surveillance State…

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Dear Leader is Watching

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Peter Dunne has capitulated to John Key’s “compromises”, and will give National his support to pass the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill and it’s sister Bill, the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill.

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Dunne backs expanded spy powers

Source: Fairfax Media – Dunne backs expanded spy powers

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Peter Dunne’s sell-out should bring no joy to civil libertarians and to those New Zealanders who understand the full implications of these two proposed laws.

Every New Zealander will now potentially be under surveillance. Everyone.

The passing of these two Bills is not the end of the story, however. National also has another plan in store for us,

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Kindy kids to have ID numbers

Source: NZ Herald – Kindy kids to have ID numbers

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The numbering of children will begin with beneficiary families. That’s how it usually begins; with those at the bottom of the socio-economic heap, and who have been so completely dehumanised by constant vilification and finger-pointing that the Middle Classes no longer consider them as human. Certainly not people they feel empathy with.

Such is the purpose of  well-designed, repetitive, propaganda. The Big Lie.

Of course, once New Zealanders are accustomed to the numbering and surveillance of beneficiary children – National will eventually expand the programme to include all children from all families. Everyone will become a number.

The numbering of  our children – coming to all Kiwi families Real Soon.

Quasi-fascists and naive right-wing bloggers such as that witless, lying fool, Cameron Slater, are positively wetting themselves with delirious joy that New Zealand is a step further to being a Policed Surveillance State.

This could only have come about because of Key’s popularity with the Right Wing and the lumpen-proletariat/middle classes. (XYZ Factor anyone?! Out-House Improvement?? Survivor Eketahuna?!!?)

Had Labour tried to pass these two Bills, the Right would be fainting  from apoplexy-inspired coronary attacks and the media headlines would be written in gory, blood-red headlines damning the rise of the ‘Big Brother’ State.

God knows the fuss over shower-heads raised the level of hysteria to heights not seen since the 1950s “red scare”.

But because our high-polling, smile & wave, Prime Minister is fronting this massive expansion of  State power, only the Left and a few other isolated voices are vocal in their objection.

Interestingly – but unsurprisingly –  several of Slater’s own commentators expressed unease at National’s expansion of the GCSB’s powers. One poster made this unerringly accurate observation,

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comment on GCSB Bill - whaleoil blog

Source: Whaleoil – Peter Dunne has found his stones, will support GCSB bill

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Slater’s readers seem brighter than the sleaze-meister himself.

So much for Rightwing rhetoric about getting the State out of our lives and reducing the role of government…

But Cows4me has made a valid point (one which Slater doesn’t – or can’t – answer).

The GCSB and telco Bills are being passed by a government “friendly” to rightwingers. So nothing to fear, as Slater and some of his brain-numb sycophants keep telling themselves.

Except…

Every three years, we have these little events called “elections”.

And every so often, the public – bless their cotton socks – tire of rightwing economic orthodoxy and vote for a left-wing government to clean up the social mess created by National policies. As happened in November 1999.

Allowing the GCSB to spy on New Zealand citizens, and employing the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill, gives an awful lot of power to Prime Ministers – including left-wing Prime Ministers.

Rightwing bloggers like Slater and David Farrar often receive leaks from various Parliamentary sources.

The same applies to left-wing bloggers.

Now imagine that a left-wing government is elected in 2014 (still a strong possibility despite some shonkey polls)…

Imagine that rightwing bloggers go into hyper-drive with their sledging of the new government…

And imagine that a Minister in the new government becomes pissed off with something that Slater or Farrar or some other RWNJ blogger writes…

The Minister has a chat with the PM… the PM has a quiet word with the new head of the GCSB… the GCSB checks the internet activities of Right Wing blogger Mr X… and discovers that Mr X has been secretly chatting up young ladies on Facebook. Which is something that Mr X’s wife might take a dim view of.

And lo! A left-wing blogger is leaked this information and posts some very strong hints about Mr X’s proclivities and activities on his/her own blog… (In fact, there might even be a new blogsite created, by an anonymous left-wing blogger, for just this very purpose.)

If I were Slater or Farrar or any of their rightwing fellow-bloggers, I would not be so chirpy at the GCSB being given such vast new powers. In fact, I’d be hoping that my past and current life  is squeaky-clean.

Same goes for commentators on right-wing blogs who hide behide the anonymity of pseudonyms. A GCSB operative checking IP numbers and relying on their new powers granted under the  Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment would soon reveal their true identities.

Imagine then, if you will, that it was discovered that a commentator was posting from a work station. How would his/her employer feel if they were informed that their employee was indulging in blogging activity during work hours?

Unlikely, you might think?

Not really. Government ministers already leak information to bloggers.

And Paula Bennett certainly didn’t think twice before releasing private details of two solo-mothers in 2009,

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No apology from Bennett over leaked income data

Source: NZ Herald – No apology from Bennett over leaked income data

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Politics just got a whole lot more “interesting”.

Welcome to New Zealand, the Policed Surveillance State of the 21st century.

Next step,

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ID Card

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Followed by,

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barcoded humans

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Unlikely?

That’s what was promised about the GCSB when it was first set up in 1977 by Rob Muldoon: it would never be allowed to spy on New Zealand citizens.

People trusted Muldoon then.

As people trust Key now.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 25 July 2013.

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To Ohariu Voters who I have wronged…

24 July 2013 6 comments

… my apologies.

Not all of you voted for the man who sold his soul for whatever benefits he gained from his Master…

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peter dunne john key

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Truly, Mr Dunne, you have lost your way.

You resisted with all your might, to prevent the release of your emails with journalist Andrea Vance. You cried “Parliamentary Privilege” from here to Mt Olympus.

Now, with your able assistance, and paid a handsome reward for your turning, the State will be able to read our emails.

Tell me, sir. What did it benefit you, to have gained the Prime Minister’s favours, and lose your integrity?

 

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Categories: The Body Politic Tags: ,

Congratulations Ohariu voters…

23 July 2013 5 comments

… your MP has declared his support for legislation that will turn New Zealand into a Policed Surveillance State,

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Swing vote Dunne supports GCSB Bill after changing tune on domestic spying

Source: NBR – Swing vote Dunne supports GCSB Bill after changing tune on domestic spying

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Is this what you expected of your MP?!

If not, drop him a line and tell him that Big Brother is not on your Christmas “wish list”.

peter.dunne@parliament.govt.nz

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Beware of unstable government!

27 June 2013 3 comments

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John Key - Peter Dunne - John Banks

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In case anyone has missed it, Dear Leader and his Ministers have been consistantly spreading the message,  warning us about the potential perils of a Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?) coalition government.

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Only National can provide a strong stable Government that keeps debt down and delivers on jobs. The alternative is big spending, big borrowing, and huge uncertainty.  Any way you look at it – a Labour-led Government would owe our future.” – Steven Joyce, 22 November 2011

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If anyone thinks Labour and the Greens are going to deliver stable government, they’d better think again.” – John Key, 19 July 2012

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The sharemarket value of Contact Energy, Trust Power and Infratil shares alone fell by more than NZ$300 million yesterday afternoon. That value was taken out of the pockets of hard-working KiwiSavers, the New Zealand Super Fund and small shareholders across New Zealand. If Labour and the Greens could do that in just a few hours, imagine what they would do if they ever got near being in government.” – Steven Joyce, 19 April 2013

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There is not going to be a difference between centre left and centre right; it’s going to be a Labour government dominated by the Greens.

This would be the issue of 2014 and voters needed to be aware of the differences.

All of those differences between Labour and the Greens will need to be reconciled by Election Day.

If there is to be no Transmission Gully if a Labour/Green’s Government gets in then we need to understand that; they won’t be able to fudge that.” – John Key, May, 2013

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Normally, elections are fought between the centre left and the centre right. That is not what’s going to take place next year. David Shearer has cut his cloth and it is wrapped around Russel Norman … that now becomes an election between the centre right and the far left.” – John Key, 28 May 2013

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Well, we’ve seen “unstability” since November 2011.

One of National’s coalition Ministers was investigated by the Police for electoral fraud, and is now before the courts facing a private prosecution, charged with filing a false electoral return.

Another coalition Minister has just resigned his portfolios after allegations that he leaked document(s) to a journalist.

And National’s other coalition partner, the  Maori Party, seems unsure how many co-leaders it has;

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Three co-leaders of the Maori Party

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I think from now on, Key and his ministerial cronies may lie low a bit and keep comments of “unstable government” to themselves.

Instability? We’re seeing it now, in spades.

This blogger is picking an early general election – this year.

After that, this country can settle down to a coalition government of stability. One that doesn’t include Key, Banks, Dunne, et al.

About bloody time.

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The Nationalmobile

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References

National.co.nz:  Labour plus Greens equals billions more debt (22 November 2011 )

Dominion Post:  Key’s game is ripping into Greens (19 July 2012)

Interest.co.nz:  National’s Steven Joyce dismisses Labour-Greens power policy as ‘bumper sticker politics at its most destructive’ (19 April 2013)

FW:  Key fires warning shot over ‘green-dominated’ labour (May, 2013)

ODT: And so it begins (28 May 2013)

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Westpac, Peter Dunne, & Edward Snowden…

23 June 2013 7 comments

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Edward Snowden Charged With Espionage Over NSA Leaks

Acknowledgement: Huffington Post –  Edward Snowden Charged With Espionage Over NSA Leaks

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Are we  witnessing the first green buds of the Earth Spring?  All over the world, the winds of change are blowing harder and harder.

The Arab Spring was first, and people rose up against dictators in Algeria, Egypt, and Libya. In Syria, a similar popular uprising  turned into a bloody sectarian war, claiming nearly a hundred thousand lives. Dictator Assad will not give up power easily.

In the West, the Occupation movement flowered for a brief moment, but has become dormant again… for a while.

In Turkey and Brazil, people have come out onto the streets to oppose their  governments. Even democratically elected governments are feeling the brunt of popular discontent.

In the US, even as a once great symbol of freedom devolves into a police surveillance state, individuals are risking personal safety and rebelling.

Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden are two such men.

Manning was arrested in May 2010, and is currently facing a military trial (and we know how that will turn out).

Now, Edward Snowden is the latest whistleblower to be charged by an American system that is becoming more and more despotic.

When a government fears it’s own people, it is well past it’s Use By date.

Bradley and Snowden: history books will be kinder to them than the politicians who persecuted them.

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Dunne hasn't made up mind about GCSB bill

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ –  Dunne hasn’t made up mind about GCSB bill

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Edward Snowden made public information that revealed that US intelligence agencies were spying on citizens in countries around the world. He revealed that no one’s privacy  was safe.

Meanwhile, here in New Zealand, the National led government is rushing a Bill through Parliament that would permit the GCSB to do precisely that; spy on New Zealanders.

We have moved from a nation that barely tolerated the State from prying into our lives – to one that is surveilling us; storing vast quantities of data on us; and now wants more power to spy on us.

There is barely a murmur in response.

Even the Right Wing – the political spectrum that is  (supposedly) the most intolerant and suspicious of  the growth of  State power – seems to be practically comatose. Though in reality that may be because National is proposing the law-change, and not Labour. If it were a Labour government…

Peter Dunne, fresh from  resigning his ministerial portfolios for allegely leaking the Kitteridge Report (or, more accurately, breaking an embargo, since it was one week away from being released anyway), has yesterday  announced that he might not support National’s  Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill.

Whilst I’m not about to look a gift-moa in the mouth and happily support Dunne on this – it does raise a few questions.

Questions like… why?!?! Up till now he has been  the obedient lap-cat of the National Party, so why all of a sudden has the Coiffured One grown a pair, and practically thrown his lot in with the Snowdens and Mannings of this world?

Martyn Bradbury on The Daily Blog has been speculating on Dunne’s motivations in his part of the GCSB Affair in a series called The Dunne & Vance Theory.

Whatever is going on – I hope Dunne votes against the Bill. We don’t need to empower our spy agencies any more than they are already. We need to remember that the State is our servant – not the other way around.

We don’t need to be constantly surveilled, in case one of us happens to nick a pen or spray-paints ‘Key Sucks’ on the footpaths outside Parliament.

Up until the 21st century, the State pursued crooks after they committed wrong-doing. Now, the State seems intent on watching us all – in case someone, somewhere, is naughty.

Isn’t that… Big Brother?

I support Dunne on this dire issue. It is time to call a halt to the rise of the Surveillance State.

Dunne may well be the man to do it.

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Govt move to tender banking gets Green approval

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – Govt move to tender banking gets Green approval

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I’ve always wondered…

Why have successive governments (Labour as well as National)  used Australian-owned Westpac Bank to hold government accounts – known as the ‘Master Banking Contract’?   The Master Banking Contract has been held by  Westpac for 23 years despite never  being tendered out.  It covers all government departments (except  Crown entities and  SOEs).

According to Alex Tarrant,

  • In the late 1980s, Treasury undertook an open tender to select one bank to provide the Crown’s domestic banking services. Westpac was selected to provide these services and a deed entered into in January 1989.
  • A new master agreement was signed in November 2004 and, since 2005, the Crown has negotiated ongoing contractual price reductions for contract services.
  • The contract covers only the core banking services associated with operating Government departments’ bank accounts for processing domestic receipt and payment transaction banking business in New Zealand.
  • An increasing array of banking services have developed over time that are not covered by the master banking agreement with Westpac. Banking services that are not covered by the contract are regularly tendered by the departments concerned.
  • The contract applies only to Government departments, not Crown Entities or SOEs.
  • The Treasury regularly consults with key departments over pricing and service levels relating to the contract, including the possibility of conducting a future tender of the Crown’s banking arrangements.
  • The contract has not been re-tendered to date because the costs of doing so outweigh the expected benefits given the complexity of arrangements with departments and the price reductions negotiated under the existing contract.  Departments do, however, tender for a range of supplementary banking services not covered by the master banking agreement with Westpac.
  • The fee arrangements between the Crown and Westpac are commercially sensitive and are not made public.

Acknowledgement: Interest.co.nz – Government considers future of Westpac’s key 21 year-old banking deal

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Here are two further points to consider,

  1. Last year Westpac NZ  reported   $707 million in after-tax profit  –  a 22 %  increase from 2011. (See: Westpac profit rises 22pc to $707m )
  2. In October 2009, the IRD won a lawsuit against Westpac which had been  taken to Court for tax avoidance. Not only did Westpace lose, but it ended up owing $961 million in back taxes and accrued interest. (See: Westpac loses massive tax case on all counts)

So, Mr Key or Mr English – just remind us again why the NZ Government still has a Master Contract for State banking, with a convicted tax avoider, that actively conspired to scam the tax-payer for nearly one billion dollars?!

How is that being a Good Corporate Citizen?

Perhaps we should just let the Russian Mafia tender for our banking services – the result would be the same.

So not only is Westpace making huge profits – $707 in 2012 alone – but they’re screwing us by not paying their share of tax, as the law demands.

Have I left anything out?

Screw the tender process.

Just give the Master Contract to Kiwi Bank. The benefits would be obvious to all but the most strident, dogmatic  right winger;

  1. No more tax avoidance – the Crown-appointed Board  (with Ministerial over-sight) would see to that,
  2. Kiwibank would make bigger profits and therefore pay a bigger dividend to the government,
  3. All profits remain in New Zealand and not shipped of overseas (to Australia in Westpac’s case)
  4. Less profits remitted overseas will help of balance of payments

Win/win/win/win.

I’m just gobsmacked that no politician – whether Labour or National – has ever seen the blindingly obvious nature of this commercial cock-up.

And strangely enough, it’s left-wing parties – Mana and the Greens – thay have to point this out to the more capitalist-minded Nats?!

Though the reasons why the Nats have stayed ‘sweet’ with Westpac seem to be less than commercially sensible and more to do with a good night out…

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Greens say govt must tender master banking contract with Westpac after Ministers reveal corporate hospitality accepted from the bank

Acknowledgement: Interest.co.nz – Greens say govt must tender master banking contract with Westpac after Ministers reveal corporate hospitality accepted from the bank

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Just to remind folks: New Zealand is the “least corrupt nation” on Earth. And government ministers are not corrupt, nor easily bought off by corporate parasites.

I can’t say otherwise.

Otherwise I’d be sued for telling the truth.

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Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill. – See more at: http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2013/06/21/surveillance-laws-strikebreaking-subversive-groups/#sthash.ky4ZiKiZ.dpuf

Dunne on worker’s rights

21 June 2013 3 comments

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Peter Dunne

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Despite his political problems, and despite being on the wrong side of the asset sales debate, Ohari MP, Peter Dunne has come out firmly opposed to Jami-Lee Ross’s strike-breaking Bill (Employment Relations (Continuity of Labour) Amendment Bill).

Ross’s Bill would effectively allow employers to break strikes by employing scab labour to take over the worker’s jobs.  Effectively, it would be constructive dismissal if workers dared to strike for any reason.

The Bill also allows employers to change worker’s conditions at will.

This is a nasty, repressive, anti-worker’s Bill that is much worse than the Employment Contracts Act of the 1990s. It is the ‘wet dream‘ of every far-right, anti-unionist fanatic who wants workers to be little more than de facto slave-labour.

For some, it appears that Ross’s vile Bill is a step too far.

On 18 June, the NZ Herald reported,

[Peter Dunne] said he would not be backing National MP Jami-Lee Ross’s bill allowing employers to hire contract workers when their employees go on strike.

Mr Dunne said it was a step too far and he thought the right to strike was an important part of industrial law.

“I think this is really the Ports of Auckland Bill, frankly. And while I understand the motivation behind it, I think it’s too big of a sledgehammer to deal with this specific issue.

“I think that there will be people who will misuse it, and I think that’s detrimental.”

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Dunne breaks silence by taking to Twitter

Dunne is 100% spot on – “this is really the Ports of Auckland”. It is an attempt by neo-liberals to destroy any remaining vestige of workers representation through their unions. It is anti-democratic. It is repressive. It is  what drove the workers in Poland to rise up and form their free, independent trade union, Solidarnosc.

Is that the road that Ross and his shadowy backers are wanting to choose? The road to  State suppression of workers?

If so, Mr Ross, be warned. People will only take so much before they fight back. Hard.

This blogger congratulates Mr Dunne on his sense of fairness, and hopes he will not cave to pressure from National ministers or employers.

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Thumbs up

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Previous related blogpost

Surveillance laws, Strikebreaking, & Subversive groups

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Citizen A: Martyn Bradbury, Chris Trotter & David Slack

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– Citizen A –

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Chris Trotter & David Slack –

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Citizen A: With Martyn Bradbury,  Chris Trotter, and David Slack discuss the following issues:

  • Why are Labour and the Greens clobbering Peter Dunne as hard as they can – shouldn’t Dunne be given some slack for assisting a journalist to report on a matter of huge public interest?

 

  • Also discussed, has the GCSB been interacting with the United States spy system PRISM?

 

  • And what’s the state of Auckland’s Unitary Plan and are evictions being planned for state house tenants in Glenn Innes?

 

 

Citizen A screens on Face TV, 7.30pm Thursday nights on Sky 89


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Acknowledgement (republished with kind permission)

The Daily Blog

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